SAPT seminar: TT21 wk 6: Wealth, Internationality, and Elite Education in Urban Nepal: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives

Conveners: Pratinav Anil, Pratim Ghosal, Benjamin Graham

Speaker: Todd John Wallenius (PhD Fellow, Aarhus University and Recognised Student, CSASP/OSGA, University of Oxford).


The introduction of modern education in Nepal is widely understood by scholars to have taken place in the 1950s, primarily under the direction of Western actors. While useful in describing the significant expansion of modern education in Nepal from the 1950s onwards, this perspective nevertheless overlooks earlier efforts by Nepalis to develop a modern education system in the early twentieth century. Based on an analysis of the life and publications of the largely forgotten early twentieth century educator and intellectual Jaya Prithvi Bahadur Singh, this talk aims to complicate the scholarly narrative of the ‘sudden arrival’ of modern education in Nepal in the 1950s. Furthermore, by employing a lens of global history, the talk utilizes the ideas and initiatives of Jaya Prithvi as a starting point to trace the international connections and shifting class dynamics of the historical development of elite education in Nepal. Drawing on ethnographic research at two elite schools, the talk seeks to demonstrate the relevance of this historical perspective in informing anthropological understandings of elite education in contemporary Nepal. Through both historical and anthropological perspectives, the talk explores the nexus of wealth, internationality, and elite education in order to contribute to new understandings of Nepal’s educational history and present landscape.

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