Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Emily T. Yeh

Second Advisor

Timothy Oakes

Third Advisor

Joe Bryan


This thesis examines Nepalese formations of identity, indigeneity and territory through an analysis of mountain worker discourses. Racialized ethnic identities and low positioning in the mountain labor hierarchy intersect to produce and reproduce experiences of marginalization for non-Hindu mountain workers. This marginalization cannot be separated from broader political and economic processes, which have shaped laborer positioning through land policy, Hinduization and systematic forms of ethno-racial discrimination. While Khaling Rai indigenous activists have articulated indigenous identities and land claims to challenge their marginalized position in the mountain labor hierarchy, non-Sherpa mountain workers pass as "situational Sherpas" to gain mobility and avoid discrimination in the labor market. Both cases demonstrate the importance of labor dynamics in understanding the contextual formation of identities, indigeneities and indigenous territories.

Included in

Geography Commons