Prestigious Houses or Provisional Homes? The ghar as a Symbol of Kathmandu Valley Peri-Urbanism

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This article considers an alternative formulation of urban planning generated by three-plus decades of economic and governmental liberalization.

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15 p.

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Nelson, Andrew S. July 16, 2012.

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This article considers an alternative formulation of urban planning generated by three-plus decades of economic and governmental liberalization.

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15 p.

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Abstract: Compared to the uniform brick architecture and contiguous courtyard structure of houses in the urban core of Kathmandu Valley cities, the houses of the growing urban periphery appear fragmented, disorganized, and unplanned. While critics attribute this haphazard growth to a site-then-services (house first, then infrastructure) approach of rural migrants, in this paper I consider it a result of an alternative formulation of planning generated by three-plus decades of economic and governmental liberalization. The practices of new homeowners in the periphery must be understood within the greater context of peri-urbanism controlled by a complex negotiation of brokers, contractors, housing companies, and neighborhood associations. I draw from the multiple expressions of what ‘ghar’ (house/ home) means to make sense of everyday life in a new neighborhood on the western edge of Kathmandu Valley. While ghar references the singular focus on building a prestigious house, it also indexes aspirations of neighborly cooperation and collective action to develop neighborhoods. Based on an ethnographic account of one family’s struggles to build a ghar, I track how such aspirations can unravel into debt, shame, and alienation, which ultimately produce a provisional sense of place in the city.

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  • HIMALAYA, 2017. Madison, Wisconsin: Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies

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  • Publication Title: HIMALAYA
  • Volume: 37
  • Issue: 1
  • Page Start: 57
  • Page End: 71
  • Peer Reviewed: Yes

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  • July 16, 2012

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  • July 30, 2018, 12:01 p.m.

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Nelson, Andrew S. Prestigious Houses or Provisional Homes? The ghar as a Symbol of Kathmandu Valley Peri-Urbanism, article, July 16, 2012; Madison, Wisconsin. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1213695/: accessed November 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Arts and Sciences.