Comparative Studies in Society and History

Constructing Local Boundaries

Investing Social Categories Through Place: Social Representations and Development in Nepal

Stacy Leigh Pigga1

a1 Simon Fraser University

Nepal is a predominantly rural nation: Most people live in villages and make their living as subsistence farmers. The Nepalese government, assisted by international donor agencies, administers projects directed at improving the conditions of life for these rural people. Images of villages and village life accompany the promotion of development ideals. Radio Nepal has actors playing the part of villagers in didactic skits aimed at convincing rural people that they should consult doctors for their health problems or should feed oral rehydration solution to children suffering from diarrhea. Schoolbooks contain illustrations of village scenes and talk about village life as they inform children about development programs. When development policy makers plan programs, they discuss what villagers do, how they react, and what they think. Together, these images coalesce into a typical, generic village, turning all the villages of rural Nepal into the village.