The perils of being a borderland people: on the Lhotshampas of Bhutan


Evans, Rosalind. 2010. "The perils of being a borderland people: on the Lhotshampas of Bhutan." Contemporary South Asia 18 (1): 25-42.

Author: Rosalind Evans


This article responds to Baud and van Schendel’s call for research into the history of borderland people in order to redress ‘the imbalance of ‘‘state-centred’’studies’. It does so by providing a study of borderlands from the periphery, analysing the experiences of the Lhotshampas – a borderland people of Bhutan – who migrated there from Nepal and India a few generations ago. In response to the Bhutanese Government’s efforts to promote a homogeneous national identity during the 1980s, Lhotshampa political leaders campaigned for increased political and cultural rights. The suppression of their early protests by the Bhutanese authorities ushered in a period of instability and conflict in the south, eventually resulting in the exodus of tens of thousands of refugees who have been living in camps in Nepal since the early 1990s. Through the use of secondary literature and refugees’ memories, the article investigates the perspectives of ordinary villagers caught between the Bhutanese state and local elite political activists. It highlights the important role that oral histories can play in furthering our understanding of social and political dynamics in borderland areas.

Keywords: Bhutan, Nepal, refugees, borderlands, borders

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Forced Migration, Refugees, Refugee/IDP Camps, Rights, Human Rights Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Bhutan, Nepal

Year: 2010

The Drayang Girls of Thimphu: sexual network formation, transactional sex and emerging modernities in Bhutan


Lorway, Robert, Gampo Dorji, Janet Bradley, B.M. Ramesh, Shajy Isaac, and James Blanchard. 2011. "The Drayang Girls of Thimphu: sexual network formation, transactional sex and emerging modernities in Bhutan." Culture, Health & Sexuality 13 (S2): S293-S308.

Authors: Robert Lorway, Gampo Dorji, Janet Bradley, B.M. Ramesh, Shajy Isaac, James Blanchard


Bhutan’s sustained low HIV prevalence can be attributed to its political commitment to maintain isolation from foreign cultural influence. Recently, rising HIV prevalence has coincided with the increase in human traffic along Bhutan’s borders. The majority of infections, occurring primarily through sexual contact, have appeared in the urban environments that are situated along the main transport routes. This qualitative study explored the sexual networks that form at entertainment venues in the capital city of Thimphu. To more fully understand sexual network formation at theses venues, one must take into account an emerging modernity that reflects a convergence of cultural, economic and political influences emanating from Bhutan’s unique ‘middle-path’ modernisation scheme. The growing appearance of transactional sex in Thimphu not only points to an emergent form of exploitation wrought by larger economic transformations and widening social inequalities; the power inequalities that surround its practice are also significantly exacerbated by the local cultural politics and moral ideologies that arise as Bhutan proceeds along the path towards global capitalism. Discourses of Bhutanese sexual morality articulate with broader political economic transformations to forcefully position village women engaging in transactional sex within a field of power relations that leaves them open to various forms of subjugation.

Keywords: transactional sex, sex work, Bhutan, HIV/AIDS, modernization

Topics: Development, Economies, Economic Inequality, Gender, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health, HIV/AIDS, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Bhutan

Year: 2011

Bhutanese Refugee Women in Nepal: A Continuum of Gender Based Violence


Domini, Simona. 2008. “Bhutanese Refugee Women in Nepal: A Continuum of Gender Based Violence." PhD diss., University of London.

Author: Simona Domini


This paper aims to give an account of gender-based violence among Bhutanese refugee women. It is based on secondary resources and primary research conducted in terms of informal interviews in Nepal. It argues that GBV among Bhutanese women during the ethnic cleansing campaign implemented by the government of Bhutan was part of a broader continuum of violence started in peace time, was exacerbated during the persecution perpetrated by the army and persisted in refugee camps. It also shows that displacement can provide opportunities for changes as refugees are exposed to influences of international aid workers and to ideas of equality and its promotion.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Humanitarian Assistance Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Bhutan, Nepal

Year: 2008

Gender and ICTs for Development: A Global Sourcebook


Odame, Helen Hambly, Guihuan Li, Minori Terada, Blythe McKay, Mercy Wambui, and Nancy Muturi. 2005. Gender and ICTs for Development: A Global Sourcebook. Amsterdam: KIT (Royal Tropical Institute); Oxfam GB.

Authors: Helen Hambly Odame, Guihuan Li, Minori Terada, Blythe McKay, Mercy Wambui, Nancy Muturi


Around the world information and communication technologies (ICTs) have changed the lives of individuals, organizations and indeed, entire nations. This book is a collection of case studies about women and their communities in developing countries, and how they have been influenced by ICTs. ICTs can have profound implications for women and men in terms of employment, education, health, environmental sustainability and community development.

Women want information and engage in communication that will improve their livelihoods and help them achieve their human rights. This represents a formidable challenge to all societies in today's world, and especially to developing countries. Due to systemic gender biases in ICTs and their applications, women are far more likely than men to experience discrimination in the information society. Women are not giving up on ICTs. On the contrary, even resource-poor and non-literate women and their organizations are aware of the power of information technologies and communication processes and, if given the opportunity to do so, will use them to advance their basic needs and strategic interests.

Five case studies illustrate the different contexts facing gender and ICTs for development, including e-commerce in Bhutan, entrepreneurship by women workers in China, post-war communication using radio and ICTs in Sierra Leone, sustainable fisheries production in Ghana, and information exchange related to HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. An extensive annotated bibliography of the international literature on Gender and ICTs for development, rural development in particular, and relevant web resources, complement the papers.

Topics: Development, Gender, Women, Infrastructure, Information & Communication Technologies Regions: Africa, West Africa, Americas, Caribbean countries, Asia, East Asia, South Asia Countries: Barbados, Bhutan, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Trinidad & Tobago

Year: 2005

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