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Journal Article

Frontier Settlement and Landlessness among Hill Migrants in Nepal Tarai

Nanda R. Shrestha
Annals of the Association of American Geographers
Vol. 79, No. 3 (Sep., 1989), pp. 370-389
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2563724
Page Count: 20
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Frontier Settlement and Landlessness among Hill Migrants in Nepal Tarai
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Abstract

Frontier migration has emerged as a major demographic and development issue in many developing nations and is directly tied to their state policy of frontier settlement. While some scholars see frontier migration and settlement as a vehicle for migrants to improve their socioeconomic lot, others argue that such is not the case for the majority of poor migrants. This study examines the question of how frontier migration affects Nepal's hill migrants in the Tarai region. The present analysis is conducted from a structural perspective in conjunction with field survey data collected in 1979-80. The field data are supplemented with personal (participant) observations performed in 1979-80 and in 1988. The findings clearly support the proposed theoretical framework and proposition: that the ability of frontier migration and settlement to serve as a channel of upward mobility is selective and largely determined by migrants' previous socioeconomic positions. For the majority of poor and dispossessed migrants, frontier migration has simply become a form of spatial mobility without much upward mobility. The current trend points toward increasing landlessness and spontaneous settlement (or near-landlessness) among hill migrants in the Tarai, due to the combination of corruptive land distribution to settlers, diminishing land availability, increasing inmigration, and high natural population growth. Such a trend does little to improve poor migrants' conditions; nor does it contribute to local and national development.

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