Social Science Baha

Negotiating Ethnicity in Nepal’s Past and Present


Negotiating Ethnicity in Nepal’s Past and Present
(in collaboration with Institute for World Society Studies, University of Bielefeld and Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu)
12-14 September, 2005

Ethnicity formation was a direct result of the 1990 ‘spring awakening’ whereby the image of a multicultural, multi-religious and multi-lingual Nepali society emerged as a powerful counter-project to the official rhetoric describing Nepal in an assimilative and homogenising language during the Panchayat period. But the depiction of Nepali society as ‘multicultural’ has proved to be an embattled ground where diverse visions, strategies and grievances have come to intersect and to contest each other. The aim of the conference was to understand these negotiations and specifically to grasp the dynamics of ‘ethnicisation’ and ‘de-ethnicisation’ in Nepal’s past and present.


Monday, 12 September, 2005

9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

09:30 – 10:00am
Opening Session
Welcome: Hari Sharma, Social Science Baha
Introduction to the conference: Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, University of Bielefeld
Vote of Thanks: Nirmal Man Tuladhar, CNAS, Tribhuvan University

10:30 – 11:00pm

Session I: Past and Present Dynamics in Ethnicity Formation
11:00 a.m. – 01:00 p.m.

  • Gerard Toffin, CNRS, Paris: ‘Ethnicity and Democracy in Contemporary Nepal’
  • Rajendra Pradhan, Social Science Baha, Lalitpur: ‘The Ain of 1854 and after: Legal Pluralism, Models of Society and Ethnicity in Nepal’

01:00 p.m. – 02:00 p.m.
Lunch Break

02:00 p.m. – 04:00 p.m.

  • Hari P. Bhattarai, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, Patan Multiple Campus, Tribhuvan University: ‘Cultural Pluralism and Politics of Belonging: A Study of the Making of Janajati Identity in Nepal’
  • Janaki D. Jayawardena, Dept. of History and International Relations, University of Colombo: ‘Historisizing Ethnicity and its Implications: The Sri Lankan Experience’

04:00 p.m. – 04:30 p.m.
Tea/Coffee Break

Session II: State, Citizenship and Ethnicity (12 & 13 September)
04:30 p.m. – 05:30 p.m.

  • Nepali Sah, Save the Children – Japan, Kathmandu: ‘Citizenship in Terai and Its Determinants: A Case Analysis from Dhanusha, Nepal’


Tuesday, 13 September, 2005
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

  • David N. Gellner, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford University, ‘Transformations of Ethnicity in Nepal’
  • Nira Wickramasinghe, Dept. of History and International Relations, University of Colombo: ‘Citizens and Others: Ethnicising Imperatives of the Sri Lankan State’

11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Tea/Coffee Break

Session III: Transnationalisation and Ethnicity Formation
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

  • Tanka B. Subba, Department of Anthropology, North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong: ‘Understanding Ethnic Violence against the Nepalis in North-East India’
  • Sara Shneiderman, Department of Anthropology, Cornell University, New York: ‘State Policies and Ethnic Identities at Nepal’s Borders: Comparative Perspectives from India and China’

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Lunch Break

2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

  • Mark Turin, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge: ‘The Role of Language in the Formation of Ethnic Identity: Case Studies from Nepal and Eastern India’
  • A.C. Sinha, New Delhi: ‘Search for Kirat Identity: Trends of De-Sanskritization among the Nepamul Sikkimese’

4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tea/Coffee Break

5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Comments by Dilip Menon, Dept. of History, Delhi University, and the participants

Wednesday, 14 September, 2005

Session IV: Ethnicity and Violence
9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

  • Bandita Sijapati, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, and Deepak Thapa, Social Science Baha, Lalitpur: ‘“Ethnicization” of the “People’s War”: Identity politics in Nepal’s Maoist Insurgency’
  • Ananta R. Poudyal, Central Dept. of Political Science, Tribhuvan University: ‘Interface of Ethno-political Violence and Terrorism: The Case of Nepal’

10: 00 – 12:00pm
Chair: Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, Bielefeld University

  • Lynn Bennett, World Bank/Nepal, ‘Contributions to an Emerging Community of Practice on Social Exclusion Research: Gaps Remaining and Lessons Learned from the Gender and Social Exclusion Assessment’ (Abstract)
  • Krishna Bhattachan, Central Department of Sociology and Anthropology, TU: ‘Expected Research Model in Exclusion/ Inclusion in Nepal’ (Abstract)

10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Tea/Coffee Break

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake, Social Scientists Association, Colombo: ‘The Political Economy of Identity Politics and Conflict: Or the Economics of Social Peace in Lanka’

Session V: Ethnicity in Everyday Life Encounters
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

  • Masako Tanaka, Graduate School of International Social Development, Nihon Fukushi University, Japan: ‘Questioning Participation and Social Exclusion: A Study on Tenants and Owners in the Old City Core of Kathmandu’

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Lunch Break

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

  • Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, Faculty of Sociology, University of Bielefeld: ‘Democratic Designs for Ethnic Accommodation in Nepal’s Past and Future’
  • Comments by Chris McDonaugh, Department of Anthropology, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, and participants, and closing ceremony.

4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.