Imagining the Nepali ‘nation’ through tourism

Kalyan Bhandari, Taptika Bhandari

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Tourism is considered to present a contrived and inauthentic version of a nation and that there is a big gap between touristic image and the social reality of the nation. By contrast, some scholars have argued that tourism can be an important tool to articulate nationhood and nationalism as it represents an authentic national culture. This paper looks into the representation of the Nepali nation in tourism and sees how fairly it represents ‘national imagery’ and culture. Data collected through unobtrusive methods and observations show that tourism is presenting a picture of Nepal that is largely partial and unrepresentative of its composite character. The imagery of Nepal in tourism is full of references to Himalayan heritage and there is a serious under-representation of the region of Terai and its people. The portrayal of Nepal in the two sources used reflects the representations of some kinds of ‘conservative nationalism’ in Nepal. This study also stresses that such (under)representations prevents tourism from playing a meaningful role in bringing in more ‘sub-national’ identities into the composite imagery of Nepal and solidifying and expressing Nepali national identity and nationalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-254
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Heritage Tourism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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