Ambiguous Loss in a Non-Western Context: Families of the Disappeared in Postconflict Nepal

Ambiguous loss has become a standard theory for understanding the impact of situations where the presence of a family member is subject to ambiguity. A number of studies of ambiguous loss have been made in a range of situations of ambiguity, but almost all have been firmly located within a Western cultural context. Here, ambiguous loss is explored in a different cultural context through a study of the families of persons disappeared during Nepal’s decade-long Maoist insurgency. Through the use of qualitative research methods, a sample of families (n = 160) of those disappeared during the conflict has been studied to understand the impact of disappearance. The results of this study are compared with the expectations of ambiguous loss theory to test its relevance in the Nepali context.

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