The Royal Asiatic Society presents:
Royal Asiatic Society ‘Britain Nepal 200’ Lecture Series
Thomas Bell – Kathmandu
Kathmandu is the greatest city of the Himalaya; a place where unique cultural practices that died out in India a thousand years ago have survived. It is a carnival of sexual license and hypocrisy, a jewel of world art, a hotbed of communist revolution, a paradigm of failed democracy, a case study in bungled Western intervention, and an environmental catastrophe.
Closed to the outside world until 1951 and trapped in a medieval time warp, Kathmandu’s rapid modernisation is an extreme version of what is happening in many traditional societies. The many layers of the city’s development are reflected in the successive generations of its gods and goddesses, witches and ghosts, the comforts of caste, the ethos of aristocracy and kingship, and the lately destabilising spirits of consumer aspiration, individuality, egalitarianism, communism and democracy. Erudite, entertaining and accessible, it is the fascinating chronicle of a unique city.
Thomas Bell studied at Oxford and the Courtauld Institute of Art before moving to Kathmandu to cover the civil war in Nepal for the Daily Telegraph and The Economist. He was later Southeast Asia correspondent for the Daily Telegraph.
Introduction by Professor David Gellner (Oxford):