Singing Across Divides

An ethnographic study of music, performance, migration, and circulation, Singing Across Divides examines how forms of love and intimacy are linked to changing conceptions of political solidarity and forms of belonging, through the lens of Nepali dohori song. 


The following pages contain supplemental media for each chapter of Singing Across Divides.

1. Tending the Flower Garden: Legacies of Panchayat Musical Nationalism
2. Heading Home: Festival Dohori in a Hill Village
3. Songs with Consequences? Songfests and Binding Dohori Contests in the Rural Hills
4. Sounding and Staging Village Nepal
5. Professional Dohori and Economies of Honor
6. Love, Solidarity, and Sociopolitical Change
7. Finding a Place as a Woman Alone: Violence, Storytelling, and World-Making in Song

The book describes dohori: improvised, dialogic singing, in which a witty repartee of exchanges is based on poetic couplets with a fixed rhyme scheme, often backed by instrumental music and accompanying dance, performed between men and women, with a primary focus on romantic love. The book tells the story of dohori’s relationship with changing ideas of Nepal as a nation-state, and how different nationalist concepts of unity have incorporated marginality, in the intersectional arenas of caste, indigeneity, class, gender, and regional identity. Dohori gets at the heart of tensions around ethnic, caste, and gender difference, as it promotes potentially destabilizing musical and poetic interactions, love, sex, and marriage across these social divides.

In the aftermath of Nepal’s ten-year civil war, changing political realities, increased migration, and circulation of people, media and practices are redefining concepts of appropriate intimate relationships and their associated systems of exchange. Through multi-sited ethnography of performances, media production, circulation, reception, and the daily lives of performers and fans in Nepal and the UK, Singing Across Divides examines how people use dohori to challenge (and uphold) social categories, while also creating affective solidarities.