Rich and Unique: Bhutanese Nationalism and Ethnic Exclusion in the Kingdom of Happiness

Malin Sofie Winje Corlin

Studenteropgave: Speciale


The purpose of this thesis is to examine how the Royal Government of Buthan controls the framing of the national identity through newspaper media in order to exclude certain ethnic groups of the nation. Being a nation of many ethnic groups, the country outwardly praises diversity, but internally, a power struggle of ethnic hegemony leads to marginalization of citizens not fitting into the desired national identity. The analysis of this, is conducted on a empirical basis of 454 newspaper articles retrieved from three online Bhutanese newspapers and analyzed with the theoretical concepts of nationalism, more specifically with the theories of Benedict Anderson, Michael Billig, and Anthony D. Smith. This analytical framework provides the means to look for invented permanencies, symbols, cultural artefacts, and special words and phrasings that all support a desired national identity constructed by the government. The findings show that the Royal Government of Bhutan is actively molding media discourses to fit the ethnic identity of the ruling elite and presents it as the national identity. This they do by a persistent use of small, insignificant words to establish a sense of solidarity amongst the citizens, combined with an imminent use of grand words to describe the nation’s love of her Kings and the citizens’ love of the homeland. Through specific representations of cultural heritage, the royal monarchy, and Gross National Happiness, the ethnic Drukpa elite is framing Drukpa culture as national culture; which is ultimately described as ‘rich’ and ‘unique’. Strengthening the one narrative of Bhutanese national identity, the government effectively excludes other ethnic groups of Bhutan, who in turn are underrepresented, marginalized, and kept from political participation. This persistent deprivation of democratic rights is threathening a democracy still in its infancy.

UddannelserInternationale Udviklingsstudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato28 sep. 2017
Antal sider79
VejledereOle Bruun


  • nationalisme
  • etnisk eksklusion
  • diskursanalyse
  • national identitet
  • nationer