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Suitably Modern: Making middle-class culture in Kathmandu - Mark Liechty - Mandala Book Point, Kantipath, Kathmandu, Nepal


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   Suitably Modern: Making middle-class culture in Kathmandu - Mark Liechty - Anthropology
Suitably Modern: Making middle-class culture in Kathmandu
Author: Mark Liechty


About  .

  The Book

Suitably Modern traces the growth of a new middle class in Kathmandu as urban Nepalis harness the modern cultural resources of mass media and consumer goods to build modern identities and pioneer a new sociocultural space in one of the world’s “least developed countries.”
Since Nepal’s “opening” in the 1950s, a new urban population of bureaucrats, service personnel, small business owners, and others have worked to make a space between Kathmandu’s old (and still privileged) elites and its large (and growing) urban poor. Mark Liechty looks at the cultural practices of this new middle class, examining such phenomena as cinema and video viewing, popular music, film magazines, local fashion systems, and advertising. He explores three interactive and mutually constitutive ethnographic terrains: a burgeoning local consumer culture, a growing mass-mediated popular imagination, and a recently emerging youth culture. He shows how an array of local cultural narratives—stories of honor, value, prestige, and piety—flow in and around global narratives of “progress,” modernity, and consumer fulfillment. Urban Nepalis simultaneously adopt and critique these narrative strands, braiding them into local middle-class cultural life.
Building on both Marxian and Weberian understanding of class, this study moves beyond them to describe the lived experience of “middle classness”—how class is actually produced and reproduced in everyday practice. It considers how people speak and act themselves into cultural existence, carving out real and conceptual spaces in which to produce class culture.


“In the first sustained ethnographic monograph on the ‘modern,’ urban scene in Nepal, Liechty sketches the historical contours of the emergence of the middle-class, probes middle-class consciousness, and describes how a substantial segment of the urban population fashions and refashions itself as a class situated between the elite and the laboring masses through consumerism ....Mark Liechty’s most substantial accomplishment, in my reading, is in the analysis of the production of consumer desires and anxieties, an analysis which takes us a long way toward an understanding of the workings of late capitalism in the periphery where it is essential to understand the origins and consequences of this desire. Liechty is to be credited with breaking important new empirical ground for studies of social process in contemporary Nepal and the many places in the world like Nepal....Liechty devotes substantial attention to the role of mass mediation in shaping the cultural forms of commodity consumption ....[His] is the most informative study of media consumption we have not only for Nepal but more generally for South Asia.”
– David Holmberg
Cornell University


Mark Liechty is Associate Professor of Anthropology and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is coeditor of the journal Studies in Nepali History and Society published from Kathmandu.


Book  .


Publication: Martin Chautari (Reprint) 2008
Number of Pages: 292 +
ISBN: 978-9937-8004-5-7

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