Textbook difference: Spatial history and national education in Panchayat and present-day Nepal

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This article examines the transformation of the diverse imperial landscape of the Gorkha Kingdom into the more uniform and integrated space of the Nepali nation. It argues that nationalised schooling, as it was introduced under Panchayat rule (1960–90), was central to the production of national space. However, it also highlights how this schooling concomitantly extended a language of ‘anthropological’ and ‘ecological’ difference with which to organise and negotiate this space. Below the textbook surface of unity-in-diversity, remnants of imperial caste and racial hierarchies remained. And, along with novel notions of national development, new hierarchies were introduced that separated developed centres from remote and backward peripheries. Through its engagement with Nepali history, the article thus contributes to our understanding of the continued interaction between the production of national space and historical developments in governmental differentiation. Approaching ‘spatial history’ as a combined emphasis on the history of spatial production and the spatial productivity of historical representation, it highlights the contingencies of national connections between time and space. In conclusion, the article suggests how the languages of difference built up across Panchayat and present-day schooling continue to shape contemporary re-imaginings of national space, in the midst of political uncertainties.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIndian Economic and Social History Review
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)53-78
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - spatial history, national space, Nepal, Panchayat, education, difference, development

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