Accepted Paper:

Changing lives of the musical caste Gandharbas and social 'inclusion' in Nepal  


Izumi Morimoto (Meiji Gakuin University)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation aims to depict changing lives of the musical caste Gandharbas who have been recognized as wandering minstrels providing news in Nepal, and examine their practices for “inclusion” through subsuming their musical practices as a sort of cultural identity, or commodity, into globalization.

Paper long abstract:

This study attempts to examine how the social 'inclusion' in Nepal goes on through depicting the changing life world of the Nepalese musical caste Gandharbas who have been wandering about from place to place to make their lives with their songs.

As a dalit jaat, they have been marginalized and excluded from opportunities in Nepalese society. After 1990 Democracy, some Gandharbas got economic opportunities from international tourists directly in a tourist area, then their lives have been changed not only in their home villages but also in Kathmandu. To a certain extent, they have been released from pre-modern discriminatory society by democratization.

However, during People's War, the Gandharbas gave up wandering about villages because villagers had taken precautions against strangers whether they were Maoists or some dubious characters. Since the mid of 1990s, the number of Nepalese people who went abroad for seeking jobs began to increase. Some Gandharbas also got jobs in Middle East countries and Malaysia and so on.

On the other hand, after People's War, the Gandharbas living in villages started to wander about villages again. Because the number of domestic tourists is growing up and they get chances to sing songs and rewards from passengers on the buses that usually move very slowly because of heavy traffic jams.

This study also attempts to examine an aspect of globalization in contemporary Nepalese society through such an experience of the Gandharbas.

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