Diaspora from the Himalayan Region: Nation and Modernity in Select Literary Works

Himadri Lahiri


 Diasporic movements from the tiny Himalayan nations (including Tibet) are not new but these have not been in the limelight in critical discussions. The corpus of Nepalese, Bhutanese and Tibetan diasporic literary output in English is also not as much visible as those of other South Asian countries. The literary endeavours of these diasporas are in fact in a nascent stage. Nevertheless, some powerful writers have in the meantime emerged to write about their lived experience from exilic-diasporic perspectives, mostly focussing on the nations they left behind. Mention may be made of Kunzang Choden of Bhutanese origin, Bhuchung D. Sonam of Tibetan origin, Manjushree Thapa of Nepalese descent and Prajwal Parajuly of mixed origin. Their movements to the neighbouring countries or to the West pose cultural challenges and create crises regarding civilisational norms. The nations of their origin and their cultures have been the constant reference points in their writings for either emotional reasons or for activist causes. In the process, the issues of nationalism and modernity occur on different occasions. Subtle arguments of absence of “coeval time,” in the sense Johannes Fabian uses the phrase in his book Time and Other, surface in the literary texts and as a result issues related to cultural “authenticity”/Western modernity make their presence felt. This article will explore these issues as represented by some of the writers from the Himalayan region, particularly the Tibetan and Nepalese ones. In doing so, attempts will be made to explore the differences in the types of diaspora originating from this particular geographical area.

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