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Macalester College

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples


This paper addresses the extension of governmental power into the mountainous periphery of the village of Dho Tarap in the Dolpa District of Nepal. New technologies, new markets, and new social dynamics are penetrating the Himalaya and reshaping the connections that mountain people have to the outside world. In this context of connectivity and modernity, the people of Dho Tarap are also being thrust into far closer proximity to the Nepali government. After a series of geopolitical moves in Nepal and China in the 1960s, Dho Tarap as part of an isolated border region has been a part of a national statebuilding effort at consolidating borders and border populations. These statebuilding efforts have included asserting and establishing the sovereignty of the state, and then attempting to reach these populations to raise revenues, keep records, and to generally govern.

This paper, then, tells a story of people who have, until recently existed in the “periphery” of the nationstate and explores and tells their experiences with incorporation into that state. The paper suggests that it is far easier to exert influence and establish sovereignty over a peripheral region than to govern it fairly. State power has been established in the Tarap valley, but through the testimony of villagers this paper argues that the Nepali government has failed to deliver on the promise of government itself: namely protecting and providing for the welfare of its citizens. In Dho Tarap, instances of governmental presence are defined by neglect and both by the exploitation of villagers and the support of existing exploitative power structures. Finally, the paper identifies spaces where the state may have more influence and more responsibility in the future, hinting at the normalization of state control in Dho Tarap and exploring the active process of a modern state attempting to govern its people.


Cultural History | Environmental Sciences | Environmental Studies | Geography | Growth and Development | History | International Relations | Physical and Environmental Geography | Political History | Political Science | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


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