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Between the market and Comrade Mao: Newar cultural activism and ethnic/political movements
Linköping University, Department for Studies of Social Change and Culture, Culture, Society, Media Production. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2012 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The Newars are prominent in the ethnic and indigenous (janajati/adivasi) movement in Nepal. With their heartland in the country's capital area, the Kathmandu Valley, their position is contradictory: they are part of the economic, political and cultural elite yet dominated in numerous ways. Still in the 1940s, people went to jail for publishing literary works in Newari, and the Newar struggle for recognition, identity, and cultural survival - often linked with leftist, political movements - has taken many forms since then. Cultural activism is prominent among these forms.

This contribution studies Newar cultural activism as an artistic, aesthetic practice. This practice includes songs, cultural programs, music, dance, theatre, but also media artifacts such as cassettes, cds, video-cds, and recordings and "visualizations" for broadcasting purposes. Not only song texts, but also such things as musical resources and non-verbal statements in dress and dance are meaningful here and important to analyze.

The contribution builds upon ethnographic research from the mid 1980s and into the present day. This period has seen a transformation in political terms from absolutism to democratic republicanism with Maoism as perhaps the most important base for political ideology. But equally important, economic transformations have come to challenge the very roots of the traditional agro-urban civilization of the Newar heartland. In this light, cultural activism is one way to negotiate a position for the Newars and their heritage between the economic forces of the market and the ideological offensive of Comrade Mao's followers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Nepal, Newar, ethnic movement, indigenous people
Keyword [un]
janajat, adivasi
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Music
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-76850OAI: diva2:516995
ASA 12. Arts and aesthetics in a globalising world. New Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, April 3-6 2012
Available from: 2012-04-20 Created: 2012-04-20 Last updated: 2012-05-08

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Grandin, Ingemar
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Culture, Society, Media ProductionFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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