Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Asian Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2006
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Ethnomusicology, Columbia University
Negotiating Nepalipan: Migration, Gender and Nation in Nepali Music and Language

This study examines Nepali migrants' construction of gendered national identity through language, music and embodied affect in performance. Specifically, it concentrates on the emerging commercial genre of improvised male-female duets known as dohori, in which romantic love, migration, and social issues are addressed through humorous lyrical play. Dohori has become widely popular during the past three years of increasing violent conflict, and is increasingly presented in terms of national cultural heritage. As dohori restaurants and nightclubs proliferate and provide jobs for many migrant performers, the recording industry comes to rely more and more on dohori sales, and the myriad rural practices of question-answer singing from which the commercial genre originates continue. As performers and recordings travel back and forth between urban and rural areas, musical and social ideas and ideologies circulate, closely linking live and recorded expressive practices in this discursive space of migration. Using ethnographic and ethnomusicological methods in multiple sites-urban Kathmandu, migrants' rural villages, and the routes in between-this project will seek to understand the expressive means by which Nepali migrants negotiate the massive changes in their daily lives, and the changing ideas of gender and nation emergent in this musical discourse.