privacy policy

Ethnicizing Federalism in Nepal: Claims for a Limbu State in Province Number 1 After 2008


· Prem Chhetri CIRDIS University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria)


07/28 | 11:00-11:20 UTC+2/CEST


The installation of federalism in Nepal was one of the major challenges to be addressed by the new government in Nepal after the instauration of democracy in the country after 2006, and the preparation of a new Constitution from 2008 (the Constitution was finalized in 2015). The central controversial issue in this endeavour was the criteria to be used for the delimitation of the federal ‘provinces’, either on the basis of ethnicity, or of other criteria such as geography. The debate over federalism was one of the major causes for the failure of the first Constituent Assembly which was dissolved in 2012. The Limbus, one of the larger ethnic groups in East Nepal and member of the indigenous nationalities, for example, were demanding a redrawing of the Province Number 1 in eastern Nepal along the boundaries of the ancestral Limbu territory and its renaming as ‘Limbuwān’. My paper focuses on the recent history of the struggle for the Limbuwān Province. It will discuss the organizations and people involved in this struggle. Through this case-study, I explore the interactions between identity and politics in the context of state restructuration in 21st century in the Nepal-India borderland. I show how identity has become a central element of political action; in line with previous studies on this topic I will endeavour to show how the struggle for Limbuwān contributed to reinforce inclusive political representation and democracy in Nepal (cf. Hangen 2010; Onta 2006; Hangen & Lawoti 2013).