Nepa School & Chautari Research Colloquium

Nepā School and Chautari Research Colloquium

28 May 2014

“Professional Social Science Associations in Nepal: Unequal Performances despite Equal Possibilities” by Devendra Uprety

“This presentation analyses the basic structural features of professional social science associations in Nepal and assesses their levels of performance in regular institutional activities like the organising of seminars and conferences and the publication of journals and edited volumes, among others. By taking the Linguistics Society of Nepal, Political Science Association-Nepal and History Association of Nepal  as case studies, I shall identity factors responsible for their unequal levels of performance even though all of them were established with similar missions and objectives. Contrary to the general perception that macro-structural forces like resource constraint, autocratic governance and political adversity are major determinants of institutional success, I argue that vested objectives of founding members, differing internal management structures and varying degrees of organizational commitment and dedication of the leaders are important factors that influence organizational performance.”

Devendra Uprety is associated with Martin Chautari. He also teaches sociology at Om Health Campus, Purbanchal University. He has done research on disciplinary history, academic institutions, knowledge production, and mental health. His recent publication is The State of Sociology and Anthropology in Nepal: Teaching and Research in Nepal (in co-authorship, 2014, Martin Chautari).

30 April 2014

“In Quest of Becoming an Anthropologist: Life and Work of Dor Bahadur Bista” by Gaurab KC

Dor Bahadur Bista belongs to the first generation of Nepali anthropologists and whose legacy to the founding and institutionalization of the discipline of sociology/anthropology in Nepal is widely acknowledged.  This presentation will narrate the unfolding of Bista’s life and work within the specific socio-political change in the early Panchayat period. In doing so, the presentation seeks to engage with some problems of writing intellectual biographies, including the tensed relationship between the lived individual life and the evolving social times.

I started investigating Bista’s life, work and legacy in 2009 by interviewing his family members, friends, and colleagues, and by collecting all possible information about the man and his life, including his personal and field diaries, audio recordings, and his published and unpublished writings. In this presentation, I will argue that the choice forced upon an intellectual biographer is itself a symptom of the highly polarized intellectual landscape in Nepal, which allows only dichotomies and not a grey zone. These extreme views, I will further argue, will remain in force in Nepal for some time to come.

Gaurab KC holds a master’s degree in anthropology from Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur. He is working as a researcher at Martin Chautari. His research interests include migration, media, intellectual biography, disciplinary history and street economy. KC is also making a film on the life of Dor Bahadur Bista that will be released soon in 2014.

19 March 2014

“Personal Narratives of Thakali Women: Education and Aspiration” by Dipti Sherchan

More than often, personal narratives of women are excluded from the mainstream narratives of any social, economic, or political sphere in Nepal. This paper argues that the personal narratives of Thakali women highlight the disjuncture between their personal aspirations and the state narratives. The paper is divided into four sections. The first section briefly introduces three Thakali women from three different generations in order to provide the context for the paper. The second section delves into the notion of “following” their narratives; and the third section deals with the two recurring themes of education and aspiration in them. To sum up, the paper attempts to critically explore the gap between the women’s life experiences and state aspirations.

Dipti Sherchan is studying anthropology at Tribhuvan University and is working on her Master's dissertation on gender and identity. She completed the Graduate Diploma in Social Sciences programme at Nepā School of Social Sciences and Humanities in 2011. Currently, she is also affiliated to Nepā School as a researcher assistant.

26 February 2014

An Attempted Assassination of a Journalist: Rethinking Periodization in Nepali Journalism Historiography” by Harsha Man Maharjan

This research demonstrates the limitations in existing schemes of periodization in Nepali journalism historiography that are based mainly on political-constitutional changes. These schemes take regime changes and new constitutional provisions as triggers which set significant alternations in organization and practices of journalism in Nepal. While some of the organizational changes in media were shaped by these external factors, existing literature lacks concrete evidence relating these factors to the changes in everyday journalistic practices. The essay examines genealogies of the specific orientation of the journalists and of their characterization of the powerful across the sharp regime changes of the 1990s. It shows that professional journalism that conventional historiography sees as the effect of the 1990 Constitution was very much prevalent before 1990. It argues for a periodization based on characteristic changes in the internal aspects of journalistic practice. In this paper I have discussed Nepali journalistic practice around the attempted assassination of a journalist, Padam Thakurathi, in 1986. I have used the event as a lens to view the complex field of journalism in the years leading to the changes after 1990. I demonstrate that Thakurathi and his team practiced what could be termed professional conduct.

Harsha Man Maharjan is a researcher in the Media Group at Martin Chautari. His publications include studies of Nepali radio, the Nepali film industry, and state-media relations in Nepal. He has co-authored Radio Network (2009) and Media Talim: Nepali Abhyasko Lekhajokha (Media Training: Evaluation of Nepali Practices, 2010). He is also the co-editor of Samabeshi Media (Socially Inclusive Media, 2008) and the annual Nepali language journal Media Adhyayan (Media Studies).