This study, situated within the broader context of migration studies, focuses on examining the varied narratives within the historiography of Gurkha soldiers and identifying gaps in the historical accounts across different time periods. Utilising Hillary Janks’ critical discourse analysis and Ruth Wodak’s discourse historical approach, the research will analyse three official documents in the public domain: two speeches from the bicentenary celebration of Anglo-Nepalese relations and one website/report from the Nepalese Embassy. Furthermore, primary, archival research conducted at the Gurkha Museum, Winchester (UK), will be combined with a visual analysis of the museum’s permanent exhibition to gain insights into the existing narratives surrounding Gurkha soldiers outside of Nepal. Interviews with veterans will also be used to understand their experiences with reintegration upon returning from their post in foreign militaries and being a part of the Gurkha community. These will be considered within Michel-Rolph Truillot’s way of understanding the (postcolonial) processes that go into the construction of history.

This study seeks to contribute to the migration discourse by exploring how historical narratives, shaped by discursive strategies, influence perceptions of migration and identity among and of Gurkha soldiers both at home and abroad. The primary objective is to understand the reasons behind how some narratives prevailed over others, shedding light on the role of historical representations in shaping narratives of migration experiences, particularly to create a dream-like image of the ‘Lahures’. The study also delves into the impact of the United Kingdom’s ex-colonizer status within the Indian subcontinent on the historiography of Gurkhas, offering insights into the connections between colonial histories and contemporary migration narratives. The broader questions that will be addressed by this study encompass the dominant as well as the less heard of narratives, attempting to gauge the level of agency the Gurkhas themselves had in constructing their collective identity and in becoming a national symbol as the ‘courageous and loyal’, while simultaneously being categorised as the soldiers that would receive ‘primitive training to prepare for primitive environments’ which are not suitable for their British counterparts. This paper attempts to uncover these other facets of the narrative that are invisible in the image portrayed by official institutions as well as determining the rationale behind such decisions by political bodies.

The findings suggest that ex-imperial powers can exert lasting influence similar to that of colonisers, impacting migration patterns and identity construction. This underscores the importance of recognizing the need for active efforts to decolonize surrounding countries and populations, offering a nuanced perspective on the relationship between colonial legacies and migration dynamics.