chapter  5
Properties of identity: gender, agency and livelihood in Central Nepal
Pages 20

When I first walked up the Trisuli Valley of Nepal in 1980 I was struck by the quality of gender relations in Tamang communities, 1 which appeared relatively non-oppressive and permitted a surprising openness of erotic expression. The women there seemed to be in many ways remarkably free agents. Their interactions with men were seemingly uninhibited by the predominant South Asian attitude of feminine modesty (laaj in Nepali). Years later, during fieldwork, these initial impressions were developed as I came to understand the considerable strategic possibilities women exercised in the achievement of their productive livelihoods and in their personal relationships.