Home Institution

George Washington University

Publication Date

Fall 2013

Program Name

Nepal: Development and Social Change


Within the communities of the Thakali people of Mustang, Nepal, decisionmaking power has traditionally been held by the local chieftain, the Mukhiya. However, this traditional authority appears to be threatened by two trends of Nepali development: the institutionalization of the Village Development Committee (VDC) as the official entity of local government, and the proliferation of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) as part of a development push to expand community participation in decisionmaking. Current scholarship has deeply explored the sociocultural dynamics of the Mukhiya as well as how the sociopolitical landscapes of Thakali societies are changing, but a scholarly link between the two is currently lacking. This research utilizes a case study approach in Tukuche, Mustang to explore the current role of the Mukhiya in community decision-making. The research concludes that although the Mukhiya has lost legal recognition of his role in the community, he has been able to maintain his influence by continuing to fulfill traditional roles and responsibilities as well as participating actively in new CBOs. Furthermore, the research demonstrates how the Mukhiya, in the context of a defunct local government, has been able to reassume development and governance responsibilities.


Asian Studies | Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Politics and Social Change | Regional Sociology | Sociology of Culture


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