The Mobility of Permanence: The Process of Relocating to Kathmandu

Author(s): Andrew Nelson

Published Date: March 2013

Publication Type: Working Paper

Published by: CESLAM

This paper addresses the experience of physical mobility in a recently settled locality on the urban periphery of western Kathmandu. Residents tend to understand their new position in the city as a residence, or basāĩ, in relation to a more permanent home, or ghar. Interestingly, the tension between basāĩ and ghar extends far beyond one’s current residence in Kathmandu and village home. It refers to a spectrum of previous locations and future destinations, stretching from Nepali towns, villages, and cities to foreign opportunities as varied as employment in the Gulf or education in the United States. Importantly, however, this spectrum is not just geographic, but is given social significance through a dual understanding of global, national and local economic conditions and symbolic representations of prestige, goods and kinship. As such, the most recent relocation to Kathmandu must be understood as part of a process involving a complex web of places and meanings.

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