Studying-up those who fell down: elite transformation in Nepal


  • Stefanie Lotter University of Heidelberg



This article discusses the methodological challenges of studying elites, and argues that both the negotiation of access and the position of the researcher in relation to the studied elite group are vital to the research outcome. Unlike previous studies that took the stance of associating with the elites, this article favours a perspective 'from below' borrowing conceptually from 'subaltern studies' to reveal the working of gatekeepers and the study of imposed hierarchy as an inherent part of the representation of an elite culture. Studying the Rana, an elite clan past its prime, this study shows that an approach beginning with the declined periphery and proceeding to the power centre presents an extensive view on the working of elites.

Author Biography

Stefanie Lotter, University of Heidelberg

Stefanie Lotter is currently completing her PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Heidelberg (Germany). She was posted in Kathmandu as the representative of the South Asia Institute of the Heidelberg University for two years (1998-1999) during which time she undertook fieldwork with a declining urban elite, the Rana.