Books

2015_02_RitualsOfEthnicity_BookCover

*All book royalties will be  contributed to organizations  supporting Thangmi  communities to rebuild in the wake of the 2015 earthquakes.

2015. Rituals of Ethnicity: Thangmi Identities Between Nepal and India. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press (Contemporary Ethnography Series). Paperback edition now out (Fall 2017)!

Rituals of Ethnicity is a transnational study of the relationships between mobility, ethnicity, and ritual action. Through an ethnography of the Thangmi, a marginalized community who migrate between Himalayan border zones of Nepal, India, and the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, the book offers a new explanation for the persistence of enduring ethnic identities today despite the increasing realities of mobile, hybrid lives. The first comprehensive ethnography of the Thangmi, Rituals of Ethnicity is framed by the Maoist-state civil conflict in Nepal and the movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland in India. The histories of individual nation-states in this geopolitical hotspot—as well as the cross-border flows of people and ideas between them—reveal the far-reaching and mutually entangled discourses of democracy, communism, development, and indigeneity that have transformed the region over the past half century.

“An entirely unique and stunning ethnography. Shneiderman finds herself assisting the Thangmi’s drive to manifest their distinctiveness and seek recognition. She manages a high-wire performance herself: one full of compassion, acute theoretical insight, exemplary balance, and respect for the sacredness of the quest—doing as much credit to ethnography as a craft as to the Thangmi as a people. Few have been as fortunate in their ethnographer as the Thangmi.”—James C. Scott, Yale University

“Brilliant and original, Rituals of Ethnicity traces how identity, ethnicity, and indigeneity are constructed by members of a marginalized group within different state structures. Arguing for the importance of often self-conscious rituals for mobilizing and objectifying ethnicity, Shneiderman shows how anthropology too can be marshalled for this project, recasting ethnography as a variety of ritualized performance.”—Kirin Narayan, The Australian National University

 

Purchase the book from the University of Pennsylvania Press

View portions of the book for free on Google Books

Listen to a podcast interview on New Books in South Asian Studies, New Books Network 

Read my blog post “Rebuilding Thangmi Communities after Nepal’s 2015 Earthquakes”