Public displays of ethnic identity in Nepal 
Martin Gaenszle (Institute for South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies)
Alban von Stockhausen (University of Vienna)
Marion Wettstein (University of Vienna)
Start time:
26 July, 2014 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This panel examines how, in the on-going socio-political developments in Nepal, ethnic identity is expressed, shaped, and perceived through public means, such as journals, magazines, films, novels, media coverage, programs of ethnic or religious organisations, festivals, dances, or public rituals.

Long Abstract

In the last two decades Nepal has witnessed far-reaching political and social changes, especially through party politics, the so-called People's War (1996-2006), and the restructuring of the post-monarchic state. In the process of these still on-going developments collective identities have often been reformulated through notions of ethnicity. Debates on ethnic boundaries and definitions have intensified or newly developed. This is most obvious in the process of formulating a new constitution for the country: One of the main reasons for the failure of the Constituent Assembly in 2012 was the unresolved question whether to delineate the federal states according to ethnicity. This option is strongly favoured by ethnic activists and firmly opposed by members of the high Hindu castes, who now also have begun to claim the status of janajati (indigenous groups). In this context the question how, on a practical level, such identifications are actually publicly displayed, conveyed and processed among opinion leaders, activists, and the general public has become an important issue. This panel therefore invites contributors to examine how ethnic identity is constructed, expressed, re-shaped, and perceived in Nepal through public means, such as local journals, ethnic magazines, films, novels, media coverage, programs of ethnic or religious organisations, ethnic festivals, dances, public rituals or any other cultural events and activities. Particularly welcome are contributions with a focus on both discursive and performative aspects.

Accepted papers: