Travelling castes: Nepalese immigrants in Australia

Mitra Pariyar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Caste among South Asian migrants remains under-researched. Some past studies of caste among indentured Indians in the former British colonies show that it, by and large, failed to revive abroad. Researchers of post-World War II free migrants in the West have remarked, albeit tangentially, that caste has remained salient. There is a need to further explore the problem of caste for a better understanding of migrant living. An unprecedented movement of overseas Indian Dalits in Britain, demanding caste legislation, also proves the significance of the issue. In this ethnographic research into Nepalese migration and settlement in Australia, I seek to understand how Nepal’s caste hierarchy has shaped the process of migration, as well as the family and communal life of migrants on the continent. I outline some of the specific areas–domestic, ritual, religious, marriage, transnational politics–where caste has retained its saliency abroad. My analysis shows that a more nuanced understanding of the dynamics of caste overseas is essential to minimise the controversies and promote research into this potentially sensitive but crucial topic. I demonstrate that caste has found a new lease of life overseas due to, inter alia, the growing use of the Internet and smartphones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-103
Number of pages15
JournalSouth Asian Diaspora
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Australia
  • Dalits
  • diaspora
  • discrimination
  • Nepalese migration
  • online
  • overseas caste
  • untouchability


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