Culture and Conflict in the Himalaya A14/15 (15PSAC291-A14/15)

This course is intended to provide Masters students with an opportunity (which is unique in UK Higher Education) to consider and understand current socio-cultural and political issues in the Himalaya—primarily Nepal, but with some sessions also focusing on Bhutan.

It provides a basic framework for the cultural and political history of the Himalayan states, discussing specific questions of national and cultural identity, and takes the civil war and its aftermath in Nepal, the flight of ethnic Nepali refugees from Bhutan, and the status of members of the Nepali diaspora in India as important case studies. 

Although it is regionally specific, the course will provide students with insights that will enable them to consider more generally issues such as the relationship between ethnic, linguistic and national identities; processes of nation building; the relationship between dominant elites and marginalised minorities; the tension between tradition and modernity; the underlying causes of social and political conflict in a resource-poor environment; the factors that can lead to refugee flight; and differences between assumed and ascribed identities.

There will be a weekly lecture plus separate weekly tutorials for which students will be required to prepare in advance by reading items assigned to them from the reading list. 

Timetable:       Lecture: Friday 1-2pm [Room B100]

                        Tutorial: Friday 2-3pm [Room B100]

Assessment: two essays, each of 4000 words (1 essay for each term, 30% of final assessment each); and fortnightly reaction papers of 800-1000 words each, of which the  five best reaction papers account for 40% of the overall mark.

Reaction papers should be emailed to Stefanie Lotter ( by midnight on alternate Sundays (the first will be due on Sunday 19th October).  They should be based on readings from the past two weeks and should not be summaries of facts but a synthesis of ideas.   Aim for 800 words; up to 1000 words is OK. Stefanie Lotter will return them to you via email before the next paper is due, and let you know either that they are acceptable or that she requires you to revise and re-submit them.  At the end of the year she will select your best five.  These will then be double marked and count towards 40% of the overall assessment for the course.  See below for reaction paper guidelines and a good example from last year.

Essay deadline: coursework essays are to be submitted on the first Thursday of the second term (08.01.15) and the first Thursday of the third term (16.04.15). Please be aware that University of London regulations on plagiarism apply to all work submitted as part of the requirement for any examination. 

Attendance requirements: Students are strongly advised to attend all lectures and tutorials or seminars for the course.  Students should notify their tutors or the Faculty Office in advance if they are unable to attend a tutorial for good reason.  Should two absences occur without explanation within any four week period, the tutor will inform the Faculty Office and a letter will be sent to the student with copies to his/her tutor and to the Registry.  All absences are noted on student records.