Accepted Paper:

Formation of respectable families: transforming marginality in the Badi community in western Nepal  


Yasuko Fujikura ( National Museum of Ethnology)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the transformation of marginality in the Badi community, historically considered as a "prostitute" caste, in western Nepal, by examining their attempts to secure safe living environment and political inclusion through the transformation of their reproductive practices.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the collective struggle for inclusion by the Badi community in Nepal after their association with prostitution became a matter of public policy and community controversies. For many residents and activists, a series of events following the introduction of AIDS prevention projects and the prostitution eradication campaign in the 1990s marked a turning point for the community, with the emergence of new collective actions and self-representations that transformed their marginality. In their efforts to achieve social and political inclusion, many men and women began to portray themselves as people who seek to establish respectable families, and politicized the problems of unstable marriage and unrecognized children as the result of historical discrimination by the state. Along with the efforts to change public discourses and representations, they transformed their own practices of marriage, birth, child-raising, and school education of children. Community leaders and parents made efforts to consciously create a new generation, not only for better future of their children, but also for the collective efforts of Badi people to be recognized and treated as dignified Nepali citizens. As the formation of respectable families became the aspired goal, men, women, youths, and children negotiated with new subject positions within the immediate social relations and material conditions. This paper considers the question of inclusion in the 2000s by exploring the consequences of the collective struggles to legitimate families in the simultaneous engagement of political and judicial institutions, as well as families and local communities.

Panel P037
Comparative ethnography of 'inclusion' in Nepal: discourses, activities, and life-worlds