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Yang, Zezhou (2024) An Experiment in New Nepali Studies: Decolonisation, Transculturation, and Everyday Life Between (and Beyond) Nepal and China. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis explores the potential contours of new academic bodies of Nepali Studies, and in doing so, questions for whom these bodies of knowledge might be reshaped. It proposes that the current academic discourse of Nepali Studies, with its predominantly Western-centric, nation-state-affiliated characteristics, often fails to serve the diverse needs of local actors. These actors frequently embody nuanced forms of cross-border engagement, entangled in various power geometries, and grounded in everyday contexts. In this thesis, I argue for a more dynamic and inclusive Nepali Studies that produces nuanced, place-specific knowledge derived from the lived experiences of various trans-regional actors. It asserts the importance of a simultaneous decolonising reflection on the intersection of coloniality, knowledge production, and power in Asian contexts. The contentious presence of China in Nepal’s history, particularly in the recent decade, provides a robust case study. This thesis delves into empirical and concrete instances of Nepal-China engagement, starting by examining the pre-modern trans-Himalayan complexity of Nepal-related knowledge. It scrutinises how such trans-local knowledge has been negated, reshaped, and integrated into the dominant colonial knowledge framework since the early 20th century. With the matrix of coloniality in knowledge production as its backdrop, the thesis then moves to the contemporary era. It investigates how Nepal is portrayed in modern trans-Himalayan cultural artefacts, such as travelogues and Vlogs, seen as inventive modalities of knowledge dissemination that can often enable marginalised actors to gain mobility within the globalised world. This thesis also addresses spatial aspects of contact, exploring several transnational spaces and how they influence various transnational power dynamics in everyday contexts. It pays particular attention to emerging Trans-Himalayan mobility patterns and tactics used by various actors to navigate turbulent times. By examining concrete instances of engagement between Nepal and China, I adopt a public, participatory, and collaborative stance.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Rachel Harrison
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2024 15:45

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