Cultural Studies Group of Nepal: Insight from those who really know their stuff

Happening Issue 218 Jan, 2020
Text by Evangeline Neve


If you are already wise to the ways of CSGN, feel free to skip to another article. If you aren’t, I would highly recommend that you read on. CSGN stands for Cultural Studies Group of Nepal, and though it’s been operating since 2006, it only came to my attention in 2019. Something that particularly fascinates me is listening to and learning from people that have specific, some might say obsessive, knowledge of a particular field, especially if it’s one I know little to nothing about. The more detailed the better—it feels to me like a temporary immersion into a world that I would never experience otherwise. So in light of that, CSGN is right up my alley.

The group meets on the last Friday of each month (except during December, July and August) at the Hotel Shanker to hear a lecture by an expert. The topics are all, obviously, related to Nepal and its culture, but beyond that—it seems like the sky’s the limit. I’ve only begun attending recently, and over the past few months, I’ve attended heard firsthand from Billi Bierling what it’s like climbing the highest mountain in the world, learned fascinating details of gharial conservation in a talk by Phoebe Griffith and delved into the nitty gritty of post-earthquake reconstruction with architect John Sanday. The talks are relatively concise, rarely over an hour, often employ audio visual aids, and somehow as you listen the time just flies. As I said, I love specific, detailed knowledge, and listening to these people I found myself wanting to study crocodiles, climb mountains, rebuild historical monuments. I won’t, of course, but I came away from each of these events with a new respect for those who do, and a little bit more knowledge and insight into a facet of Nepal’s culture. I’ve been telling people about CSGN ever since, and after finding out that most of those I told had never heard of it either, I decided to give it a shout-out in these pages.

The last Friday in January 2020 will be a talk by a Jesuit Father on Newari Buddhist culture, but if you happen to pick this issue up some months—or even years—from now, details are below if you want to find out who’s speaking this month. Or just pop by—I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. Annual memberships are available that give you entrance to all lectures plus special field visits, or you can just stop in and pay 500 rs. to attend any lecture on a one-off basis, with tea, coffee and cookies. This second option is perfect if you, like me, aren’t always sure if you’ll be free each month but want to be able to come when you can. I hope to see you there!

Cultural Studies Group Nepal (CSGN) meets at the Shankar Hotel at 10:30 am on the last Friday of each month except December, July and August. See what’s coming up next at