Simultaneous Identities: Language, Education, and the Nepali Nation
This book is based on the premise that language dynamics in public places reveal a lot about the process of negotiation of symbolic power that is underway in any sociopolitical context. Drawing on the everyday practices in the two schools, this book illustrates that social actors in minority language education did not necessarily select between minority identity and national identity, instead shifted the terms of engagement by discursively positioning ‘ethnic identity’ as ‘national identity’.Here, the book highlights two distinct but interrelated dynamics. On the one hand, everyday language practices in the schools display inward-looking characteristics by stand ensuring mother tongue competency and conscious construction of unified ethnolinguistic identity. On the other hand, there were outward-looking dynamics of transcending ethnic boundaries and actively engaging with the broader national education system. The salience of these processes is the simultaneous membership to multiple groups, claims over public spaces and in the spaces of nationalism, hitherto associated with Nepali. Contrary to the ideas of difference espoused in ethnic activism and assimilationist ideas of homogeneity articulated in nationalist discourse, students made simultaneous claims to more than one social identity which were considered neither incompatible nor binary opposites. This emerging narrative of simultaneities in minority language education may help us to appreciate the issues of national and minority identity in a more open-ended way.
education, South Asia, language, Nepal, ethnicity, nationalism