Mapping Diverse Heritage in Post-Disaster Nepal

PhD Fee Remission Scholarship

School of Social Sciences

Lead Researcher: Doctor Hayley Saul

Nepal is a country that records over one hundred ethnic groups (Diwasa et al. 2007),(opens in a new window) leading to a wealth of cultural diversity within a relatively small geographical area. Within its high relief, mountainous landscape, ethnic groups have often developed traditions in relative isolation from their neighbouring valleys. The result is that attitudes to heritage – what heritage is and the articulations of a community’s relationship to their shared past – exhibit equally considerable diversity. Efforts to collect, codify and map this cultural heritage have, however, been hampered to date, not only by the high relief terrain and remoteness of settlements, but by the challenges of limited infrastructure and the extraordinary rapidity of social and political change within Nepal as it continues to respond to the complexities of development processes. As such, the diversity of cultural practices and attitudes to heritage operating across Nepal has yet to be systematically documented - academically or as a response to policy.

This PhD project will document culture-making among different ethnic groups in Nepal, with two key foci: (1) field-recordings, observations and the curation of both tangible and intangible heritage practices; and (2) the provisioning of benefits to those communities whose heritage is being recorded. Conceptually, the research takes as its point of departure Byrne’s (2014: 3)(opens in a new window) identification of the “need for an ethnography of heritage in Asia”, alongside a concomitant need to push heritage research beyond a focus on preservation towards the empowerment of participating communities. Given Nepal’s current lack of a centralised heritage listing process (such as an equivalent to Australia’s National Heritage List or the National Heritage List for England (NHLE)), it is envisaged that the project will have strong policy articulations, with clear pathways for research impact across a range of beneficiaries that include local stakeholder groups and policymakers. The mapping project will thus work in concert with Nepal’s Ancient Monuments Preservation Act of 2013 (1956 AD) to provide a well-grounded, evidence-based resource that could be used at local, regional and national levels in future heritage management processes.

Topics of interest may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Nepalese musical heritage;
  2. Nepalese dance traditions;
  3. Religious traditions and festivals;
  4. Local structures of care and conservation for the past;
  5. Technology, arts and crafts.

Particular areas of focus for the proposed PhD project will include:

  1. Historicising heritage in Nepal alongside more ‘recent’ appropriations;
  2. Theorising heritage in Nepal, with particular reference to the concepts of identity, authenticity and commodification;
  3. Documenting an ethnography of heritage in Nepal and forms of engagement with a shared community past;
  4. Practicing heritage in Nepal, with parameters that extend to the curation of heritage, its interactions with the realm of tourism and performances of heritage;
  5. Innovating an online heritage mapping resource – a major output of the proposed PhD – which will include both tangible (e.g., sites, monuments, artefacts) and intangible (e.g., songs, soundscapes, ideologies) heritage articulations.

What does the scholarship provide?

Domestic and international students will receive:

  • Tuition fee remission for up to four years (i.e. the successful applicant will not be charged tuition fees).

This scholarship does not provide a stipend or cover any additional fees.

Eligibility criteria

The successful applicants must:

Need further information?

How to apply

Follow the step-by-step instructions on the how to apply for a project scholarship(opens in a new window) page.

Incomplete applications or applications that do not conform to the above requirements will not be considered.

For questions and advice about the research project, please contact the Lead Researcher;
Doctor Hayley Saul:

For questions and advice about the application process, please contact the Graduate Research School:

Applications close 30 June 2020

*Applications close at 11.59pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).

Scholarship reference code: 2016_054_SoSS