Nepal on the Move: Conflict, Migration and Stability

Migration Among Religious and Ethnic Minorities

Cameron Warner

Objective of sub-study 3Sub-3

This sub-project will study the practices and discourses surrounding intersections between religion and ethnic minority status, and their subsequent impact on internal migration patterns in Nepal.

The project will focus on the internal migration and every-day politics of Tibetan Buddhist Nepali citizens, including both Tibeto-Burman minorities and relatively recent converts to Buddhism. The project brings into conversation normative Buddhist and analytical conceptions of mobility, rural development, and identity. The selection of three distinct Buddhist groups as informants allows for a comparison across ethnic, class, caste, age, linguistic, cenobitic/eremitic, and non/celibate spheres. After 1959, 20,000 Tibetans went into exile in Nepal. Eventually, Buddhist lamas from Tibet began constructing large, cenobitic monastic schools in the Boudhnanath and Svayambhunath suburbs of Kathmandu. For demographic reasons, these institutions began educating thousands of poor Nepali children whose parents are culturally Buddhist. Simultaneously, the charismatic leaders of these monasteries began attracting wealthy foreign patrons and local converts from among Bahun, Chetri, and Newari families.