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The George Washington University

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Tibet/Bhutan: Tibetan and Himalayan Studies


This project focuses on the Tibetan Carpet Industry started in Nepal during the 1960s with help of the Central Tibetan Administration, His Majesty’s Government of Nepal, and support from the Swiss. By the 1990s, the Industry was central to Nepal’s economy, providing means of employment for many Nepalese, and no longer needed external support. Since the 1990s, however, Tibetan Carpets are struggling to compete on the international market. My objective is to analyze Tibetan Carpets as they exist in Nepal’s capitalist market. Using Karl Marx’s theory of commodity fetishism, I explore the dynamics between capitalist producer, proletariat worker, and consumer in three factories: Jawalakhel Handicraft Center, Tinley Carpet Factory, and Trina Carpet Factory. Each one is an archetype of the industry, one being a public factory, one being private Tibetan-owned, and the last being private Nepali-owned. Having explored these three, I found that Marx’s theories fit all three to varying degrees, though private more than public, but the framework alone is insufficient without also analyzing Nepal’s current social and political situations.


Economic Theory


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