Toilet as the Mainland of Institution: A Study of Toilets in Tribhuvan University
Toilets are an integral, yet, often neglected part of buildings and structures. While toilets demonstrate sanitation practices of an organization, it is not the only thing that could be studied through observation of toilets. Along with sanitation practices, gender relations, social inclusion and monitoring and surveillance system could also be observed through toilets and this paper aims to study this socio-cultural aspect of toilets where it becomes a representation of the organization it is embedded in.
In doing so, the paper adopts the debate of “mainland” and “island” (van der Geest and Frinkler, 2004) where it argues that toilets at Tribhuvan University could be viewed as a “mainland” which represents the institution’s social and cultural values, demonstrates the relations between people concerned, their sense of responsibility and their everyday practices when it comes to use of ‘public’ services and spaces. This paper is based on research carried out for completion of Master’s degree in Anthropology. The major methods of data collection includes two years of participant observation (from 2014-2016) of the authors as the graduate students at Central Department of Anthropology, informal conversations and key informant interviews with the students, teachers and staffs using and responsible for maintaining the toilets at clock tower building at the university.
 In their work, van der Geest and Finkler (2004) talk about how hospitals are not merely identical clones of global biomedical model and the hospital as the foremost institution of biomedicine is a space where the core beliefs and values of a culture become visible. The hospitals reflect and reinforce dominant social and cultural processes of their societies.