Culture a la Carte: Semiotic Construction of “Glocal” Identities in Nepal
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Type of Work105 p.
ProgramMA in Cultural Sustainability
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SubjectsNepal -- Heritage tourism.
Nepal -- Ethnic groups -- Social life and customs.
Economic development -- Nepal -- Planning.
Cultural sustainability -- Capstone (Graduate)
As globalization and booming international industries connect peoples around the world, many communities express the desire to assert senses of self as they share their cultures with visitors. They might wish to sustain their culture while enjoying the conveniences and boons of “modern,” global economies and lifestyles. The desire to maintain the old while engaging the new opens dialogue on the questions of identity, representation, and authenticity in cultural performance. Nepal is a land with deep multicultural roots and a multiplicity of ethnic heritages. The preservation of these traditions is crucial for the success of the lucrative – and high-impact – cultural tourism industry there, but an interesting tension also exists. Looking to the past for a form of nostalgic identity can ignore the vast cultural and value-based changes that are occurring. Political upheaval, from monarchy to democratic republic, is one salient example of these changes. Growing insistence on social activism threatens traditional ethnic groups; some people protest that those customs of the past limit opportunities for today. As Nepal develops as a democracy, a desire for a place and identity in the wider global exchange also occurs alongside a variety of cultures that has existed in the region. There is a need for opportunities for both interests to grow safely, in harmony rather than at war. The Capstone applies a theoretical analysis of semiotic structures to explain the process of community identity construction. The existing patterns of construction of ideological structures provide opportunity to use the same methods to create alternative cultural representations that reflect modern communities. The Capstone describes fieldwork observations into Nepali cultures and proposes ideas for partnerships and action to reflect community development goals.