Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Brenda M. Romero

Second Advisor

Geoff Childs

Third Advisor

Holly Gayley

Fourth Advisor

Jay Keister

Fifth Advisor

Anna Morcom


In the remote Himalayan valley of Nubri, in Nepal’s Gorkha district, ethnic Tibetans have developed a rich body of song tied to the region’s landscape and sacred sites. This area is undergoing rapid demographic change as youth migrate to Kathmandu seeking education, disrupting the process of transmission of the local song repertory. Simultaneously, Nubri youth who find themselves growing up in Kathmandu are encountering new repertoires: those of modern transglobal pop music; Nepali pop and folk music; musics of their fellow adibasi janajati, or “indigenous nationalities” (Nepalese citizens, largely of non-Hindu castes and Tibeto-Burman languages, who often refer to themselves collectively as “Himalayan”); and the music of the diasporic exiled Tibetan refugee community. While they are unable to learn the musical traditions of their local villages due to long-term displacement, some youth from Nubri and other Himalayan areas of Nepal are connecting to the roots of their culture by learning a modern exile presentation of traditional Tibetan performing arts at the Nepal Tibetan Lhamo Association (Lhamo Tshokpa, or “Tibetan Opera Association”). By assimilating these contemporary and global strains while struggling to maintain connection to their local traditions, these youth and those with whom they ally are recentering what it means to be Tibetan, Himalayan, and Nepali. As in any context of globalizing modernity, indigenous Himalayans, exile Tibetans, Nepalis, and foreigners in Nepal reveal and delineate relationalities of identity in the alliances they form with one another. This research seeks to document the endangered song repertory of Nubri and to examine discourses of Tibetan, Himalayan, and Nepali identity through the framework of alliance studies in the dynamic musical environment of the Kathmandu valley.


Additional advisor: Austin Okigbo