National Seminar on Contemporary Social Science Practice in Nepal

Flyer MishraAs historical products, modern social science disciplines emerged within a broadly specific world context of the latter half of the 19th century. Inevitably, political and economic transitions since then have reshaped social sciences in major ways, including by generating new disciplines, delegitimizing several others, and producing distinctive “hybrid” disciplines—some of which fully taken shape as full-fledged disciplines for long—in several other instances. In addition, regional, national and, in some instances, local contexts have distinctively shaped the theory and practice as well as teaching and research of social sciences. Advances in social sciences, as in all other “sectors,” have also been highly uneven across the regions, countries and localities.   

The Tribhuvan University in Nepal has periodically, beginning in the early 1970s, reviewed the state of the art of most social science disciplines in Nepal. More recently, the Institute of Social and Economic Transition and Martin Chautari have also reviewed the state of the art of several social science disciplines. This seminar broadly falls into the genre and aims (a) to continue and extend the review—including the identification of the problems of growth and development of social sciences and, as importantly perhaps, (b) to identify solutions to the problems.

We fear that the short one-day program may not prove adequate for this purpose. However, we believe that a similar—and more extended–program could be organized in the near future to the extent that there is interest both to explore the problems and to seek resolutions to them.

As has been highlighted by several authors–including Mishra in his Badalindo Nepali Samaj (2010), rapid transitions have taken place in Nepali society, economy and polity. Indeed, it could be argued that post-1980 Nepal has experienced a much more rapid transition than most other societies in the world. These changes include those in the nature of the household and family, kinship network, neighborhood, rural and urban social relations, generation of livelihood. Indeed, the organization of production has changed very rapidly and is reshaping social relations in fundamental ways. Political relations have been fundamentally altered with the changes in the organization of production and with the onset of democracy.

It is fundamentally important for social science in Nepal to identify, describe, and theorize the nature of these changes. It may also be the case that change has been rather retarded in some of the social domains—at least as compared to that in similar societies and historical periods elsewhere. In such a case, it would, of course, be necessary to probe why that has been the case. In any case only a triangulation of world social science and the shifting flow of Nepali society can give us the footwork necessary to understand our world-location in terms of social, political and economic relations. The issues of class, caste, gender, ethnic, regional diversity and inequality that have recently received a renewed prominence Nepal can also be deciphered only through such a triangulation. Social science that cannot intellectually grapple with these changes, on the other hand, takes us to a journey to nowhere. That is a journey that is unproductive, expensive as well as one that contributes to an overwhelming sense of void and loss.

Because we are organizing the seminar at a very short notice, we do not expect written papers from the panelists—who cover almost all of the disciplines taught and practiced in Nepal. (We would, of course, welcome such papers.) We expect a panelist to make a succinct presentation of problems and possible routes to resolution within a chosen discipline. Case studies of resolution of problems would be of great value as well.

The immediate output of the seminar will take three forms. One, we expect to invite a few journalists to the seminar who may report the presentation and discussion in the media. Two, the proceedings will be recorded. The recording can be used both for pedagogical purposes as well as for policy discussion. Three, and hopefully, the proceedings will be transcribed and published among a wider audience.

We are grateful to the University Grants Commission, Nepal for the financial support to the seminar.

July 8, 2016, Friday
Local Development Training Academy, Jawalakhel, Kathmandu

10:00 -10:15   Registration
10:15 -10:30. Session I. Inauguration
Chief Guest: Prof. Dr. Tirtha Raj Khaniya, Vice-Chancellor, Tribhuvan University
Special Guest: Prof. Dr. Sudha Tripathi, Rector, Tribhuvan University
Special Guest: Mr. Dilli Ram Uprety, Registrar, Tribhuvan University
Speech by Prof. Dr. Chintamani Pokharel, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Tribhuvan University
Speech by Advisor Prof. Dr. Kailash Nath Pyakuryal, former VC, Agriculture and Forestry University, and former HOD, Central Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Tribhuvan University
Speech by Advisor Prof. Dr. Ganesh Man Gurung, Member of Constituent Assembly of Nepal, and former HOD, Central Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Tribhuvan University
Chairperson: Prof. Dr. Tulsi Ram Pandey, HOD, Central Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University
10:30-10:45     Tea break
10:45-1:00      Session II. Contemporary Social Science Practice in Nepal
Chair: Prof. Dr. Ganesh Man Gurung
Dr. Chaitanya Mishra, Professor of Sociology, Central Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University
Dr. Ram Bahadur Chhettri, Professor, Central Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University
Dr. Bhim Subedi, Professor, Central Department of Geography, Tribhuvan University
Dr. Pratyoush Onta, Martin Chautari, Kathmandu
Dr. Sabitri Sthapit, Professor, Central Department of Psychology, Tribhuvan University
Dr. Ram Prasad Gnwali, Professor and HOD, Central Department of Economics, Tribhuvan University
Dr. Khadga K.C., Professor, Interanational Relations and Diplomacy Programme, Tribhuvan University
Mr. Bishwa Bhakta Dulal (Ahuti), Author and Columnist, KathmanduFloor Discussion
1:00 – 2:00    Break
2:00-4:15        Session III. Contemporary Social Science Practice in Nepal
Chair: Prof. Dr. Dilli Ram Dahal
Dr. Prayag Raj Sharma, Professor of Culture and History, Tribhuvan University
Dr. Pitamber Sharma, Professor of Geography, Tribhuvan University, and former Vice-Chairperson of National Planning Commission, Nepal
Dr. Soorya Lal Amatya, Professor of Geography and former Rector, Tribhuvan University
Dr. Meena Vaidhya, Professor and HOD, Central Department of Political Science, Tribhuvan University
Dr. Shishir Subba, Professor, Central Department of Psychology, Tribhuvan University
Dr. Tulsi Ram Pandey, Professor and HOD, Central Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University
Chandrakishor, Journalist and Columnist, BirjunjFloor Discussion and Closing



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