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New past for the sake of a better future : re-inventing the history of the Kirant in East Nepal

Abstract : This article deals with the (re) writing of Kirant history in East Nepal, using books, pamphlets and locally written and widely read articles. The actors of this recent production of new histories are what I call ‘indigenist' intellectuals. They are representatives of the Kirant population and belonging to an urbanized and educated middle-class. These indigenists have adopted an academic style in order to present their historiography as science and, as a consequence, truth. These new forms of historical production are seen as alternatives to the national standard versions which are perceived by the indigenists as false and biased in favor of high caste Indo-Nepalese. Although up till now the Kirant were commonly perceived as tribal groups living within the orbit of civilization by the Hindu royalty, Kirant indigenists wish to reverse this perception. They insist that in ancient times the Kirant had built a brilliant civilization which was then destroyed by Indo-Nepalese military expansion. We can see how this reinvented past legitimizes in their eyes the claims of this lost nation which should have been their heritage. Debates about history go hand in hand with a ‘revitalization' or re-invention of ritual traditions. It appears, therefore, that from these discussions about history come other, more vindictive actions, such as the defense of cultural, political, economic and territorial rights.
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Contributor : Grégoire Schlemmer Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 3:33:35 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, August 4, 2022 - 4:54:15 PM
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Grégoire Schlemmer. New past for the sake of a better future : re-inventing the history of the Kirant in East Nepal. European bulletin of Himalayan research, 2004, 25-26, pp.119-144. ⟨ird-00557472⟩



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