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Sharing spaces in Kathmandu: the growth of a multiethnic city

The research I am presenting in the following pages is the result of an investigation held in Nepal in autumn 2008 thanks to my participation in the activities of an NGO specialized in social issues. I considered Nepal of particular interest for the development of a work dealing with cultural studies: its crossroads position in the hearth of Asia and its remote access suggested me that the progressive install of modernity could have created a series of contradiction of remarkable stir from several points of view, including the urban policy-making one. A more attentive research and a direct long observation of the city confirmed this intuition and eventually permitted this work to come up. The image of Kathmandu as a mosaic I propose in the first chapter is not new in social sciences. The idea of a city, like a mosaic, made out of tesseras, and the attempt to investigate on the compatibility of the tesseras in this drawing, have a sufficient research history in the field of social interactions.2 The reference to “ethnicity” in the title is of not easy use and it will be properly defined and justified in the first chapter of the text. For what it concerns the scope of the research, ethnicity will have to be broadly interpreted to contain the most recognizable minority groups in Kathmandu, whether their identity recognition derive from a self declared ethnic group belonging, the caste subdivision, the national citizenship or the religious faith, they will all enter into the scope. As a matter of fact a pure ethnic approach would not lead far, given the blur distinctions and considerable interchangeability of all these identity frames. Moreover, in Kathmandu as everywhere else, no ethnic group can be considered as “pure”.

Mostra/Nascondi contenuto.
Introduction The research I am presenting in the following pages is the result of an investigation held in Nepal in autumn 2008 thanks to my participation in the activities of an NGO specialized in social issues. I considered Nepal of particular interest for the development of a work dealing with cultural studies: its crossroads position in the hearth of Asia and its remote access suggested me that the progressive install of modernity could have created a series of contradiction of remarkable stir from several points of view, including the urban policy-making one. A more attentive research and a direct long observation of the city confirmed this intuition and eventually permitted this work to come up. The image of Kathmandu as a mosaic I propose in the first chapter is not new in social sciences. The idea of a city, like a mosaic, made out of tesseras, and the attempt to investigate on the compatibility of the tesseras in this drawing, have a sufficient research history in the field of social interactions. 2 The reference to “ethnicity” in the title is of not easy use and it will be properly defined and justified in the first chapter of the text. For what it concerns the scope of the research, ethnicity will have to be broadly interpreted to contain the most recognizable minority groups in Kathmandu, whether their identity recognition derive from a self declared ethnic group belonging, the caste subdivision, the national citizenship or the religious faith, they will all enter into the scope. As a matter of fact a pure ethnic approach would not lead far, given the blur distinctions and considerable interchangeability of all these identity frames. Moreover, in Kathmandu as everywhere else, no ethnic group can be considered as “pure”. To describe this reality, a fragmentation into categories is a necessary approximation. Caste or ethnic group members, immigrants, believers, all these terms are only slightly more precise than the generality. This process undergoes the great limit of the specificity of the self: the individual is by definition unique even if he is created as a social actor within a social group. A useful reflection in this sense is the following: “We tend to use these terms least hesitantly when talking about what they exclude; the poor, the young, the deviants, the immigrants. Once we start scratching on the surface of what is supposedly the dominant culture, we often have to report back that it dissolved in front of our eyes, turning again into a number of smaller and subtly interlinked units.” 3 Keeping a first analysis on the title, the “growth of the city” is the most immediate and ascertainable fact because it can be numerically registered. The population in Kathmandu has almost doubled 2 Secchi 2000:164 3 Hannerz 1980:293,294 6

Laurea liv.II (specialistica)

Facoltà: Sciences Sociales, Economiques et Politiques

Autore: Damiano Giampaoli Contatta »

Composta da 95 pagine.

 

Questa tesi ha raggiunto 78 click dal 05/06/2009.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.