Former DPhil Uma Pradhan wins Nations and Nationalism Essay Prize

02 May, 2018

Congratulations to Uma Pradhan on winning the Nations and Nationalism Essay Prize, awarded by the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN), for her article on ethnicity and nationalism in mother-tongue education in Nepal.

Uma completed her DPhil at ODID in 2016.

The Nations and Nationalism Essay Prize seeks to encourage original research on ethnicity and nationalism among young scholars. The prize was announced at the annual ASEN conference in March.

Uma's article notes that scholarly works on ethnicity and nationalism have been highly dominated by binary frameworks. Scholars have used concepts such as civic versus ethnic nationalism and state versus counter-state nationalism, portraying ethnicity and nationalism as contradictory notions. In addition, the normative preference for civic consciousness and the concerns of national disintegration often separate the notions of ethnicity and nationalism.

The article suggests that the notions of ethnicity and nationalism cannot be understood exclusively as a choice between maintaining the integrity of the nation or completely rejecting it.

Drawing on fieldwork in mother-tongue schools in Nepal, the article draws attention to the ways in which school actors called upon the love for one’s country, while celebrating the love for one’s mother tongue.

In this context, the schools discursively positioned ethnic identity as imperative to national identity; one that bolsters the notion of Nepali nationhood. By paying close attention to the everyday context within which discourses of nationalism are situated, the article argues for the analytical necessity of approaching ethnicity and nationalism in relation to each other and appreciating the symbolic negotiations that take place in public spaces.

The prize committee praised the essay as an ‘original piece that opens up new avenues beyond those primarily found in Western societies... The paper stands out as a mature and reflective piece’.

Uma is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Education Anthropology at Aarhus University, Copenhagen.

Find out more about the prize.