Gorkhas: History of Migration and Identity formation

Author Name

Binayak Sundas

Author Address

Phd Scholar, Center For Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, [email protected]


Gorkhas, Nepali diaspora


“Gurkhas are brave, cheery little men, but they have not the wits of a hog.”

This statement by Lieutenant Francis Young husband (1854-1923), at the end of the 19th century, sums up the colonial imagination of the “Gorkha”; brave, loyal, cheerful and innocent men but slow witted and sadly it is still a stereotypical image played by popular media. But who is a Gorkha? What are the ethnicities that identify with term Gorkha? And what are the various factors that have influenced the construction and development of the Gorkha identity. The history of Gorkhas have been marked by number of migrations for various economic, environmental, political and social reasons.But, perhaps one of the most  powerful driving force behind the migration of Gorkhas all around the globe has been their role in the British Army. In the early half of the 19th century, the British had used the Gorkhas to secure and colonise the Northeast and played vital role in stabilising the region for the British. This has also led to number of very old Gorkha settlement in the North East. Such settlements have not only influenced the language and culture of the Gorkha settlers, but in turn it has also provided the region with its own political dynamism and conflicts, which is  still an ongoing issue. The Gorkhas who have served in the British army are also given right to settlement in UK and this has further facilitated the Gorkha diaspora. In my paper I shall discuss the migration and settlement of Gorkhas as a direct result of their military recruitment and how this has shaped the understanding of the Gorkha identity. Identity formation will be discussed along with the rising dislocation and will also include the transnational identity of the Gorkha identity. 


International Conference on Migration, Diaspora and Development
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