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Image of Research Honorable Mention 3
Mother Carries Daughter to School in Rural Nepal
Benjamin Linder, Anthropology
In a rural village on the margins of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, a mother walks her young (and reluctant) daughter to school. I snapped this photo just as the daughter glanced back at me, making a final appeal to her adopted older brother ("daai") to avoid attending school. The mother wears a "traditional" Nepali outfit, while the daughter sports her Western-style school uniform. The juxtaposition of these clothing styles exemplifies the inter-generational rift that my dissertation aims to examine. Since the 1990s, an explosion of non-Nepali influences has descended on the Kathmandu Valley in the form of global media, foreign tourists, and international development workers. As young Nepalis interact with and consume these influences, their cultural imaginaries expand beyond the Valley's territory. As subjectivity increasingly transcends the limits of geography, new cosmopolitan identities get constituted among Nepali youths. While fashion serves as one of the primary (and most visible) markers of such "global" distinction, this photo also exemplifies the ever-important role of physical mobility and space for the structure, practice, and consumption of such identities. This tension--between deterritorialized global media on the one hand and the restrictions of economics and geography on the other--is precisely what my research explores.