Centro Incontri Umani - Ascona

Scholars in residence - Dr. Bal Gopal Shrestha’s experience at Ascona

I was fortunate to be the first Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centro Incontri Umani, Ascona, Switzerland. The Centre is located in a peaceful environment on the hill close to the Lake Maggiore. The beautiful natural surroundings, with the lake and high mountains, are wonderful. It is an excellent place to work.
During my residence at Ascona I was able to draft my intended ethnographic book on The Newars in Sikkim.
Most valuable for me were the caring encouragements and scholarly advice I received from the executive members of the Centre, Professor Bruce Kapferer and Dr. Angela Hobart. In addition, the helpful attention, hospitality and warmth of the secretaries at the Centre, Dr. Giovanni and Laura Simona were exceptional. Occasional seminars and workshops the Centre organised were again stimulating.

Ritual Transformation in the Diaspora: The Newars in Sikkim

The purpose of my residence as Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centro Incontri Umani, Ascona was to produce an ethnographic book on the Newars of Sikkim based on field research. The Newars are the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. The Newars in Sikkim are a migrated population and feel themselves to be distinct from other ethnic groups because of their separate culture and language. However, most of them have failed to maintain their culture, rituals and language. My book aims to analyze the rituals and identity of the Newars in the diaspora. I present a general discussion of Newar society in Sikkim together with a detailed view of Newar past and present history, socio-economic position and social hierarchies, feasts and festivals as well as life and death rituals.

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