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Title: Travelling Dwellers: Nepalese Lahure in Singapore
Keywords: Gurkha, Repatriation, Nepalese, Migration, Diaspora, Transnational
Issue Date: 4-Aug-2010
Citation: HEMA KIRUPPALINI (2010-08-04). Travelling Dwellers: Nepalese Lahure in Singapore. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This thesis aims to historicize the Nepalese community in Singapore by examining the two distinct groups of Nepalese that ¿reside¿ in Singapore. In this context, community is defined as a group of individuals who hail from the same country, share the same nationality, have similar shared histories, and speak the same language albeit their different regional, sub-linguistic, ethnic, and religious orientations. The first group refers to the six decade long movement of the Nepali Gurkhas - lahures - that is distinguished by a British colonial heritage. The second group refers to the recent arrival of the new lahures - Nepali professionals, restaurateurs, middle-skilled workers, students - over the last twenty years. In general, there is a dearth of scholarly literature pertaining to this minority community. Formed under the Singapore Police Force, the Gurkha Contingent¿s guarding role in Singapore is well-known. However, there is a considerable lacuna in the socio-political study of the Gurkha Contingent. The lahures have been historically represented as hardy, loyal and brave, and this has subsequently fed a discourse that extols a stereotypic image of them. In the process of conditioning the identity of the lahures, they have come to function as a gated community in Singapore and it is within this paradigm of thought that stories of heroism intersect with the anxieties of repatriation and transience. In light of the policy secrecy surrounding the data pertaining to the Gurkhas, the socio-political aspects of the Gurkha families is an untold story, or more precisely a taboo story that cannot be told. As a result, the Singapore Gurkhas continue to remain visibly invisible, and their `absence¿ from Singapore echoes a resounding silence of their history. This thesis critically assesses the Singapore state¿s construction of the Gurkhas as `neutral¿ and `politically impartial¿ individuals, and further analyses how this neutrality rhetoric serves to underscore a unique set of terms and conditions that police and discipline the Gurkha Contingent. The Gurkha families confined residence at Mount Vernon Camp, and their repatriation to Nepal elucidates two acts of discipline. Contrary to the lahures, the new lahures are able to interact freely with Singaporeans. However, this group forms part of a larger migratory cycle given their complex transnational intents. Despite their polarised positionalities, this thesis argues that both groups of Nepalese live in permanent transience in Singapore. Within this framework, the institutional parameters that simultaneously include and exclude select groups of Nepalese from Singapore, the controversies conditioning a citizen and non-citizen Nepalese, and the multidimensional identities of the Nepalese will be examined.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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