Accepted paper:

On "politics" in Byans, far western Nepal: rajniti, village, and individual


Katsuo Nawa (The University of Tokyo)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I explore the construction of what has been discussed as "politics" by anthropologists, among people of Byans, far western Nepal, from early 1990s onwards, focusing on the gap between institutionalized party politics and intra-Rang decision-making processes.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I explore the construction of what has been discussed as "politics" by sociocultural anthropologists, among people of Byans, Far Western Nepal, from early 1990s onwards. The vast majority of inhabitants in Byans are Rang (Byansi), officially recognized as an Adivasi Janajati (Indigenous Nationality) of Nepal. Rang villagers often use the word rajniti, the Nepali equivalent of "politics," to mean only institutionalized party politics. "Go to rajniti" often means to be a politician or to utilize a political party channel to gain something from outside institutions. There have been supporters of major political parties except Madhesi parties. Intra-village and inter-village Rang issues, on the other hand, have been discussed and decided largely by meetings and informal negotiations among some influential male villagers, from traditional village headman, major politicians from various parties, and other knowledgeable males. Females have had their own organizations and have distinctive and sometimes decisive voices in the decision-making process. And all-villagers meetings are carried out to decide important issues. Here I first explore how they have managed to keep these two domains distinct, though interconnected ones, from the early years of multiparty Prajatantra, through the People's War/Maoist insurgency period, to the post-conflict period, without letting their villages divided by several antagonistic factions, each of which is connected with a political party. I then discuss how individual villagers in Byans participate in these two different but interrelated arenas differently.

panel P042
Politics, culture, and cultural politics in the Himalayas