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Title: Ethnic politics in the Nepali public sphere : three cases from the eastern Himalaya
Author: Chettri, Mona
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2013
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Ethnic identity plays a fundamental role in the political processes, development strategies and functioning of the state in the Himalayan areas of Sikkim, Darjeeling and eastern Nepal, which are geographically contiguous but politically separate. The eastern Himalayan borderland is a geographical continuum interconnected by the history of migration from Nepal, colonisation, settlement and in recent times by the political upheaval on the basis of ethnicity. Each of these areas has experienced different facets of Nepali identity politics, a trans-border phenomenon which has not only had political repercussions on a regional level but also contributed to the history and identity formation of the entire region. The Nepali ethnic group is an ethno-linguistic category, a meta-identity which subsumes numerous ethnic groups under it. It is organized around the Hindu caste system and unified by the Nepali language. Controversial in its origins, this ethnic group is now undergoing an intense redefinition leading to a variation in the political articulation of ethnicity. Based on qualitative data gathered in Sikkim, Darjeeling and east Nepal the present research is a comparative analysis of the nexus between ethnicity and politics in South Asia. This thesis contests the narrow, parochial and limited frameworks that have been used to study the region and highlights the enactment of politics in an area of high geo-political importance which is located at the periphery of the nation-state of both Nepal and India. The thesis narrates, discusses and analyses how Nepalis in Sikkim, Darjeeling and east Nepal use their ethnicity as a political resource, albeit in very different ways. The variety in political outcomes within a single ethnic group reveals the complex nature of ethnicity and the symbiotic relationship between ethnicity and politics. The case of the Nepalis of the eastern Himalayas is a study of the processes and manifestations of ethnic politics, the various structures and institutions that facilitate identity based politics but most importantly, the resurgence of ethnic politics in rapidly globalizing countries of South Asia.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral