Many Tongues, one people the Making of Tharu Identity in Nepal
Author: Arjun Guneratne
The Tharu of lowland Nepal are a culturally and linguistically diverse people who, only a few generations ago, would not have acknowledged each other as belonging to the dame ethnic group. Today the Tharu are actively redefining themselves in Nepals multiethnic polity. In many Tongues, One People, Arjun Guneratne argues that shared cultural symbols-including religion, language, and common myths of descent-are not a necessary condition for the existence of a shared sense of peoplehood. The many diverse and distinct sociocultural group sharing the name "Tharu" have been brought together, Guneratne asserts, by a common relationship to the state and a shared experience of dispossession and exploitation that transcends their cultural differences. Tharu identity, the author shows, has developed in opposition to the activities of a modernizing, centralizing state and through interaction with other ethnic groups that have immigrated to the Terai region where the Tharu live.