Social Science Baha

The Mobility of Permanence: The Process of Relocating to Kathmandu

Supported by: The Foundation Open Society Institute (FPOS)
March 2013

Centre for Study of Labour and Mobility (CESLAM) at Social Science Baha undertook a research to address the experience of physical mobility in a recently settled locality on the urban periphery of western Kathmandu. Residents tend to understand their new position in the city as a residence, or basāĩ, in relation to a more permanent home, or ghar. Interestingly, the tension between basāĩ and ghar extends far beyond one’s current residence in Kathmandu and village home. It refers to a spectrum of previous locations and future destinations, stretching from Nepali towns, villages, and cities to foreign opportunities as varied as employment in the Gulf or education in the United States. Importantly, however, this spectrum is not just geographic but is given social significance through a dual understanding of global, national, and local economic conditions and symbolic representations of prestige, goods, and kinship. The research analyses that the most recent relocation to Kathmandu must be understood as part of a process involving a complex web of places and meanings. The findings of the research in the form a paper was published in March 2013.