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Unbecoming Citizens: Culture, Nationhood, and the Flight of Refugees from Bhutan

Michael Hutt (Author)
Synopsis This book was prompted by the arrival in Nepal during the early 1990s of some 95,000 people of Nepali ethnic origin who claimed to be citizens of Bhutan, who had been wrongfully evicted from their country. These claims were contested from the very beginning, and even twelve years later not a single one of them had returned to Bhutan. Unbecoming Citizens explains who these people are and why they left Bhutan. It also examines the broader implications of their story for a world awash with refugees. The book is based on research conducted in Bhutan and Nepal during seven visits to the region between 1992 and 2001, and particularly on interview-based life history research in the refugee camps in Nepal. The author reconstructs the history of the Nepali community in Bhutan, from the first settlers’ migration to its southern belt in the late nineteenth century up to the exodus of many of their descendants to Nepal in the late twentieth. He analyses the new policies on citizenship, language, and dress which were adopted by the Bhutanese government in the 1980s, and the political resistance to these measures which ultimately led to the denationalization and flight of many erstwhile citizens. As it describes these developments, the narrative pauses at intervals to reflect on the relationship between national, cultural and ethnic identities, and on the different ways in which history can be constructed and utilized to buttress competing claims. Unbecoming Citizens will be of interest to students and scholars of South Asian and Himalayan politics, anthropology, and cultural studies, and refugee studies more generally, as well as readers who wish to know more about Bhutan and the Bhutanese refugee issue.
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About the author

Michael Hutt

Michael Hutt is Lecturer in Nepal in the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His publications include Nepali: a National Language and its Literature (London and New Delhi 1988), himalayan Voives. An Introducation to Modern Nepali literature (Berkeley, 1991) and Nepal in the Nineties: Versions of the Past, Visions of the Future (New Delhi, 1993).

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Bibliographic information

Title Unbecoming Citizens: Culture, Nationhood, and the Flight of Refugees from Bhutan
Author Michael Hutt
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2003
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 0195662059
length xix+308p., Illustrations; Maps; 23cm.