Accepted Paper:

Redefining tribal claims in a context of political change in Central Nepal  


Blandine Ripert (CNRS-EHESS)

Paper short abstract:

The paper focuses on a tribal identity redefinition of one of the recognised « indigenous tribe » of Central Nepal, in the context of the writing of the new constitution for the country, in which is discussed the possibility of a federal state based on ethnic recognition.

Paper long abstract:

The political current context in Nepal is very specific, as the new constitution of the very young republic is under writing. One of the major issue, still in discussion, is to define a federal state structure of ethnic territories, giving great autonomy to the different nationalities which have been officially recognized by the state in 1995. This is the major claim of the numerous ethnic minorities (or tribes, or indigenous people or janajati, or more recently 'nations', as called in Nepal). It often thought to be a kind of compensation for historical injustices that Hindo-Nepalese castes and state have imposed on the 'Mongol groups', as they themselves called them.

I will take the example of the Tamangs, analysing their various claims in this context, from remote villagers to urban activists to show how different can be the state and society interface, among the same group but within various economic, social and political dynamics.

The case study of Nepal is interesting, as the situation of the minorities is historically quite different compared to India. The « indigenous people » being almost 30 % of the Nepalese society, their current claims are not a marginal movement affecting the least populated part of the country.

Panel P50
State-identity interface: explorations in economic, social and cultural dynamics of tribal communities