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Williams College

Publication Date

Spring 2022

Program Name

Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples


The Jawalakhel Handicrafts Center has been the economic center of the Tibetan community in southern Kathmandu since its founding in 1961. The success of the carpet industry in Nepal allowed the Tibetans in Jawalakhel to become economically self-sustaining, the carpet factory provided livelihood for the refugees who fled from Tibet and their children. The young generation, however, has difficulties finding stable jobs due to the fact that they have no documentation and all formal sector jobs in Nepal require proof of documentation. This lack of opportunity among the younger generation has been a major driver of outmigration from Nepal. The Jawalakhel settlement is in decline because of people moving out and a decrease in demand for their carpets.

This paper details the political and community structures active in the Jawalakhel settlement. This paper also lays out the issues that the Jawalkhel settlement faces, namely lack of documentation, unreliable water access, and political repression and the factors that cause those issues. The third goal of this paper is to look at Tibetan identity in the face of Nepali political repression: how Tibetans conceive of their settlement, their own identities, the decline of the population in Jawalakhel, and the future of their settlement.


Asian Art and Architecture | Asian Studies | Fiber, Textile, and Weaving Arts | Migration Studies | Social Justice | Work, Economy and Organizations

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