Separate ways – Oped – The Kathmandu Post

Feb 26, 2017- The Anthropological Association of Nepal (AAN) was formed at the Nepal Anthropology Conference 2016 held recently in Lalitpur. During the conference, in which 125 anthropologists participated, 51 papers were presented by professors, scholars and other researchers. Foreign researchers also presented papers and delivered keynote speeches. The formation of AAN was the result of efforts spanning over two years. Previously, anthropologists had intended to form separate departments of anthropology and sociology at Tribhuvan University (TU) during the boom period of the social sciences. However, a combined Sociology and Anthropology Department has existed at TU since 1981.

The joint department survived for three and a half decades. Common subjects were taught in the first year, and specialised curriculums for sociology and anthropology were taught separately for decades. TU separated them into independent departments last year, and a separate pedagogy has been offered from the bachelor to the PhD levels. A joint professional organisation, the Sociological/Anthropological Society of Nepal (SASON), has been inert since 2013 for failure to conduct any activities.

An identity crisis
The days ahead seem to be more challenging for Nepali anthropologists compared to sociologists for two reasons. First, anthropologists face an identity crisis because most stakeholders regard them as sociologists. The Public Service Commission and the government of Nepal have a designated sociologist post. Donors and development actors generally understand that both are the same in Nepal; however, they have to be updated regarding the splitting of the two disciplines and their specialisations. Second, anthropologists have an institutional crisis. Anthropology has been taught mainly at TU. Common people only know about sociology, and only a few know about the distinctiveness of anthropology. Speaking at the conference, TU professors said that the TU leadership and college…

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