In his study named “The Formation of the Concept of Nation-State in Nepal” that was published in 1984, Richard Burghart applies the concept of a nation-state to Nepal. The paper is aimed at analyzing the key historical milestones peculiar to the development and popularization of this “alien” concept in Nepal.1 Having anatomized Nepal’s socio-cultural situation of the previous centuries, it concludes that the process in question was inextricably connected to both inter-and intra-sphere governmental relations. Due to the quality of evidence and the organization of content, the work presents a valuable source and can be recommended to individuals interested in the history of Nepal.
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In his analysis, the author proceeds from the premise that modern Nepal demonstrates the features of a nation-state. In order to make the paper well-organized, the researcher utilizes a deductive approach to studying the origins of the nation-state political rhetoric in Nepal. As for the first main point of the article, the work argues that the fortification of the ideas of national coherence in Nepal is strictly interconnected with “the concepts of possessions, realm, and country” and their legal representations of different periods of time.2 Next, according to his results, there were six factors that sparked the development of national identity in the country.
They include the demarcation of the border that took place in 1816, some conflicts linked to ritual and administrative borders, and the rulers’ willingness to see the country through the prism of human dominance hierarchies.3 Additionally, the researcher stresses the role of such factors as the official recognition of the Nepali language in the 1930s, a scarcely noticeable tendency to differentiate between particular rulers and the state, and the formation of the country’s ethnonational uniqueness in the 1960s.4
The six arguments listed above have a significant impact on the organization of the research paper since each of them is covered in a separate section. Prior to delving into the formation of ideas related to a nation-state, the researcher provides the problem’s historical background and analyzes the notion of independent countries with attention to the interconnections between “rulers, land, and people in Gorkha”.5
To sum it up, the paper proceeds from the general to the special in order to establish the context for the mentioned arguments. As for the evidence, the author supports his statements using almost eighty high-quality sources such as the works by Nepalese researchers, journal articles, government publications, and history books. Based on the arguments defended by the researcher, the source’s primary purpose is to shed light on the adoption of the nation-state models of development in Nepal.
Interpretation/Evaluation In general, the author seems to be successful in achieving the work’s purpose since he manages to apply periodization to the emergence of the nation-state rhetoric in Nepal. However, he claims to be focusing on “the intercultural and intracultural contexts” of the six events, but the question is not answered explicitly for some of these events.6 As an example, when it comes to the conceptual and actual differences that existed between the official ruler and the state, the author discusses this problem with reference to the peculiarities of the approaches to administrative organization utilized in different decades.
At the same time, the intra-cultural underpinnings of this differentiation are not defined in an explicit manner, which presents a significant opportunity for improvement. The purpose defined by the author seems to be worthwhile and not too broad since the paper emphasizes the development of only one concept instead of studying a few partially related topics. In general, the researcher manages to back his claims up with evidence from credible sources.
The latter range from historical documents related to the problems of a governmental organization to the works by historians who combine and interpret the established facts to express their vision of the political development of Nepal. Sometimes, however, the statements contain no references to research and present generalizations. For instance, the “contextual” approach to the application of some official terms is not thoroughly explained.7
Its presence is acknowledged by the researcher, and the phenomenon in question is described in general terms. However, the discussed statement does not refer to the works of other specialists that comparatively analyze different documents or provide other types of evidence to demonstrate inconsistencies in the use of terms that have legal power. Overall, the evidence provided by the author is strong and effective because it aligns with historical facts from the used literature and illustrates different concepts with the help of real-life examples.
The presence of good examples is evident when it comes to the discussion of problems that deal with legal relationships and differences between various systems of premises for judicial decisions. For instance, in order to illustrate the importance of the ancient Hindu laws, the Laws of Manu, the researcher provides excerpts from court decisions and the definitions of some peculiar legal terms. Due to these notes, the work and its purpose can be understood by those who have no background knowledge of the legal system in Nepal.
Using the cited sources, it is possible to provide additional explanations to support the author’s points. Concerning paper organization, all sections are quite easy to understand, but it seems that their names do not always reflect the contents accurately. The intracultural contexts of the events are probably the area that needs to be extended. Overall, the evidence is sufficient (there are enough sources and examples, historical dates, facts, etc.). Also, it can be called representative and relevant due to the large number of studies used and the absence of illogical conclusions.
Response The history of countries that are not the strongest economic players is related to numerous research gaps that require the attention of modern researchers. In order to address the gap that refers to the beginnings of the nation-state ideology in Nepal, the author studies the country’s historical development and offers a number of interesting propositions. Apart from evaluating the quality of the source, it is pivotal to stress its scientific novelty since it is among the first works to focus on the historical milestones related to the emergence of the concept in Nepal.
The source lists many examples peculiar to the past of this country that is quite new to me, especially when it comes to the details of the constitutional acts and other official documents. At the same time, the factors stressed by the researcher do not run counter to my previous knowledge of the concept of a national state. More precisely, they reflect the widely known characteristics of nation-states such as clearly defined and universally recognized borders, high cultural identity, linguistic homogeneity, and so on.
To sum it up, the research article being discussed presents a source that manages to analyze the formation of a nation-state in Nepal from various perspectives. The work in question can be evaluated positively due to such factors as the quality of evidence, the affluence of examples from both research papers and official documents, and the approach to paper organization. In spite of minor improvement areas, the source provides an in-depth analysis of the nation-state development thrust of Nepal.
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Burghart, Richard. “The Formation of the Concept of Nation-State in Nepal.” The Journal of Asian Studies 44, no. 1 (1984): 101-125.
- Richard Burghart. “The Formation of the Concept of Nation-State in Nepal,” The Journal of Asian Studies 44, no. 1 (1984): 101.
- Ibid., 102.
- Ibid., 113.
- Ibid., 113.
- Ibid., 102.
- Ibid., 113.
- Ibid., 107.