South Asia

Organized Panel Session

5 - Gendered Identities, Mobilities and Home for Nepali Married Women

Saturday, July 7
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Mahogany, First Floor

A girl should be like water that takes the shape of whichever vessel she is poured into. I grew up listening to these words spoken by the women in my family and within the Newar community in Kathmandu. A Newar family’s norms and values discourage women from working outside the home. The identity of a good woman, wife, or a daughter is reflected through her reproductive work (cooking, cleaning, washing, nurturing). Gillian Rose argues that home privileges men’s experiences over women’s. In patriarchal cultures, men construct a complete home with the condition that women are confined to provide its “materiality and nurturance” (Young 1997, 135).

I use feminist and poststructural theories to engage with questions of belonging, identity, gender, and home for migrant women. The gendered structure of this society educates women to view their true home as their husband’s home rather than their natal home. Women are taught to be flexible as they move from their natal to married home in order for them to properly reproduce a sense of home and belonging for her husband and his family. In this gendered complete home, a man’s identity can only be fulfilled by the presence of a woman performing her role as a homemaker, mother, and caregiver. A woman’s separation from home and her training to be a dutiful member of her husband’s family begins long before she is married. In this paper, I present further findings from the initial phase of my qualitative fieldwork based in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Richa Shakya

University of Colorado at Boulder, United States


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5 - Gendered Identities, Mobilities and Home for Nepali Married Women

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