2016 Dor Bahadur Bista Prize Winner
The winner of the 2016 Dor Bahadur Bista Prize for best graduate student paper is Shae Frydenlund, a PhD candidate in Geography at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Her paper, “Labor Racialization and Territory in Nepal’s Indigenous Nationalities Discourse: moving beyond “tribal” vs “peasant” categories,” introduces material that is theoretically and ethnographically new and engaging. Frydenlund’s was one of five submissions considered in this year’s competition. In addition to Geography, the applicants (1 Masters student, 4 PhD students) represented the fields of Anthropology, Ethnomusicology, and International Development Studies, and are enrolled at universities in the US and the Netherlands. The applicants included one Nepali, one South Korean, and three American students.
Shae Frydenlund’s Abstract
In Nepal, Khaling indigenous nationalities discourse draws our attention to the way tribal and peasant categories blur in articulations of indigeneity, rather than working as separate strategies for gaining greater political rights. Through their oral histories, territorial claims, and most importantly their stories about labor in the Khumbu, activists within the Khaling indigenous nationalities movement advocate for government recognition and fuller political rights. While labor is often left out of definitions of indigeneity, Khaling activists make claims to being indigenous people with their own territory specifically because of their position in the mountain labor hierarchy. This paper examines the emergence of a distinct Khaling indigeneity in the context of broader historical, political and economic processes, specifically Nepal’s racialized ethnic hierarchies, to disrupt bifurcated understandings of “tribal” vs “peasant” trajectories of activism. In understanding the contextual formation of Khaling land claims and indigenous identity, this research sheds new light on the role of racialized labor hierarchies in shaping local and regional articulations of indigeneity, and offers a fresh perspective on indigeneity as concept and political practice in Nepal and elsewhere.