Introduction: Michael Allen and newar studies

Iain Sinclair

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    Michael Allen is a pioneering figure in the study of the Newars, the indigenous people of Nepal s Kathmandu Valley. Allen carried out his main fieldwork in Nepal between the mid 1960s and late 1970s and enjoyed a successful academic career, twice acting as head of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sydney between 1985 and 1991. Every subsequent major study on highcaste Buddhist Newars has addressed the question of whether, or in what way, they conform to classical conceptions of the monastic ideal. Allen also drew attention to the powerful female cults of Nepal. His research on the young girl mediums venerated by both Hindus and Buddhists was first published in 1975 as The Cult of Kumari. While Michael Allen has been lauded above all for his ethnography, his work on the documentation of Newar institutions and ritual is equally remarkable. When Allen was conducting his fieldwork, the Newar language was not taught at universities in the West, and few resources were available for its study in the Valley.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)72 - 79
    Number of pages8
    JournalSouth Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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