The Centre for Nepal Studies (CNSUK) convened a talk programme – ‘Nepali Diaspora Literature: Meaning Contemporary Trend and Beyond’ in Farnborough, Hampshire on 14 November 2015. A total of 25 individuals with wide-ranging interests in diasporic literature participated in the programme. The one hour long programme was followed by a discussion session.
The key-note speaker, Prof. Abhi Subedi explained that diaspora meant a group of people dispersed from their homeland, either forcibly or by choice. Expanding on the etymology of the term, with its root to the movement of Jews away from their homeland, he argued that those who formed such groups through a shared sense of language and culture, acquired skills for communication. The process of this agency-driven transformation then produced a broader culture, and diasporic literature formed part of it. Prof. Subedi’s view was that diasporic literature required an audience base in order for it to be qualified as a distinct genre, this being the fundamental condition. In addition, one’s sense of geographical dislocation - time and space away from the homeland, informs one’s diasporic thinking and writing. Contemporary diasporic literature is awash with sentimental and nostalgic vibes; hence it falls short of transmitting the essence of exile or foreign experiences to be categorically labelled as ‘diasporic’. Prof. Subedi emphasised that the vibrant and interconnecting nature of functioning communities produced diasporic literature in a foreign land. Mainstream Nepali literature has been immensely enriched by Nepalis living elsewhere from Nepal whether they belong to diaspora or some other categories such as the naturalised immigrants in a foreign land (Prabasi Nepali).
Providing his opinion on the diasporic literature Madan laureate (recipient of Madan Puraskar) Mr Rajan Mukarung explained that literature originating outside Nepal were often created in haste, and this by extension, diluted the quality of work. Notably, the literary standards are often second rate. Mr Mukarung was of the opinion that diasporic literature should reflect identity as far as it is possible if it were to demonstrate the diversity of Nepali mainland. In addition, he said that there was a body of war literature and that it was the responsibility of renowned person such as Prof. Subedi to help promote it.
Mr. Bijaya Hitan put forward contesting suggestions by arguing that diasporic writing could stand on its own. It should not require Nepali community where the author could represent own presence irrespective of being in a community, and presenting his or her own experience and literary creations. Furthermore, he said that one’s nationality should have no bearing on the term’s definition.
Mr. Lokendra Purush Dhakal opened the talk programme by thanking all those present as well as highlighting the aim of the occasion. Dr. Chandra Kumar Laksamba gave a brief introduction of CNSUK and acted as the programme’s moderator throughout. He provided a brief summary of key points discussed. Mr Dhakal announced the closure of the session by thanking the participants once again.
CNSUK thanks Gurkha Palace and its owner Mr. Surya Gurung for providing the venue, and a free meal to the chief guest Prof. Abhi Subedi. Special thanks also go to Mrs. Sumitra Rai for taking on the management and housekeeping responsibilities