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Hamilton College

Publication Date

Spring 2008

Program Name

Nepal: Culture and Development

Abstract

The discourses of place, identity, and modernity have been thoroughly nuanced in development literature, though perhaps not through the lens that I am proposing to view them. My aim in conducting research on identity of place and by what processes they might be constructed is to examine the cultural knowledge and perception by which places are rendered meaningful. An important aspect of this type of research includes observing what processes of place and of the world outside a place influence the construction of the perceptions of modernity or progress. The nature of this research demands that it be done on a place-based scale, or in my case, on the Barpak-Village-of-the-Gorkha-District-based scale. This particular type of ethnographic study is becoming increasingly important as even the most isolated of local places are connecting with the global sphere, thus breaking down the barriers of each into what has been termed the 'glocal' (Escobar 2001, 156). This paper will expand upon the inescapable question of present cultural times: In what ways does the interaction between spatial spheres influence the ways in which people engage with place, the ways in which cultures change, and the ways in which people construct perceptions about themselves and others in the world?

The last 50 years of development fever have constructed the ways in which people perceive their realities; both their place in the world and their selves in their places. The very origin of the consciousness behind development sprouted from President Truman in 1949 when he deemed some countries 'underdeveloped' and in need of help. The definition of underdeveloped hence created, as Gustavo Esteva states in his discussion of 'development,' the extent to which things are considered "real, concrete, quantifiable, identifiable; a phenomenon whose origin and modalities can be the subject of investigation" (Sachs 2001, 11). This is exactly the point of my investigation: to identify and attempt to understand the complexities of the moving landscape in the village of Barpak which have become, for many villages, the reified Nepali village.

Disciplines

Anthropology | Social and Cultural Anthropology

 

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