Rights in Exile Programme

Refugee Legal Aid Information for Lawyers Representing Refugees Globally

Nepal - COI

Click here to see the host countries of refugees originating from Nepal.

Dr Krista Billingsley

Email: kristabillingsleyatgmail [dot] com

I have served as an expert witness in over 70 asylum cases since 2017. As a Fulbright-Hays Fellow, a Wenner-Gren Grantee, and a McClure Scholar, I conducted 14 months of ethnographic research in Nepal examining processes of transitional justice May-July 2013 and January-December 2016. Recently, I received a Wenner-Gren Engaged Anthropology Grant to continue my research on post-conflict justice in Nepal January-July 2021. I hold a Ph.D. in Anthropology and a Graduate Certificate in Disasters, Displacement, and Human Rights from the University of Tennessee and am currently the Director of Criminology and Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Criminology at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont

Syed Mohammed Ali

Email: aliatpolicy [dot] hu

Syed Mohammad Ali is an anthropologist with twenty years of experience working on international development, governance, human rights, and security challenges within the South Asian context. Besides his academic writings, which include a book (‘Development, poverty and power in Pakistan’), several book chapters and academic articles, Dr. Ali writes a weekly op-ed since 2004. He is also experienced in preparing a variety of research-based and evaluative reports, policy, and position papers for bilateral and multilateral agencies, and for prominent think-tanks likes the United States Institute of Peace. Dr. Ali has taught at the graduate and undergraduate level in Australia, Pakistan and the United States. Recently, he has been teaching courses at Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and George Washington Universities. 

Dr Gil Daryn 

Email: darynsasiaatgmail [dot] com

Dr Gil Daryn is a social anthropologist (Ph.D. Cambridge 2002) and published scholar with expertise on the culture, society, history and politics of South Asia. Since 1989, he has visited, conducted research, worked and lived in the region for a total of over thirteen years, and currently resides in the region. In addition, he became professionally involved with asylum seekers and refugees while working in UNHCR’s Kathmandu office as an Associate Durable Solutions Officer during 2008-9. In this capacity, he went through UNHCR’s archives, read in detail many private refugee files, and became familiar with Pakistan’s Country of Origin information and the RSD process. In addition, he also conducted focus group discussions and interviews with many refugees and held detailed discussions with them. Since 2005, Dr Daryn has served as a consultant and expert on asylum and human rights and has written over 170 Expert Witness Reports. In recent years he also contributed information about specific issues to ACCORD (Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation). 

Among the issues Dr Daryn often writes about are: the justice system, gender issues including so-called ‘honour killing’ and gender minorities, sectarian violence, criminal and terrorist groups, land disputes, the health including mental health systems, minority groups, political parties, and other aspects of culture, society and history of the countries in South Asia.

Dr D.N.S. Dhakal

Email: dd24atduke [dot] edudinesh [dot] dhakalatduke [dot] edu


Dr Dinesh Dhakal worked as the economic advisor of Bhutan government from August 1990 to October 1991; he left the country in protest when government began to evict ethnic Nepalese in 1990, labelling them as ‘anti-national’ and ‘illegal economic immigrants’. Since then he had been working for the resolution of the two-decade old Bhutanese refugee problem in Nepal and establishment of human rights and democracy in Bhutan. He has also specialized on the Rohingya in Nepal, India and Bhutan. He has done this work ‘under the cover’ of a prestigious academic career as an economist: first as a lecturer at Harvard (1989-2000), senior lecturer, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario (2001-2008), before becoming a senior fellow at Duke Center for International Development.

Dr Carole McGranahan

Email: carole [dot] mcgranahanatcolorado [dot] edu

Dr McGranahan is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado (USA). She holds a PhD in Anthropology and History from the University of Michigan (2001). She conducts research and teaches courses on Tibet and the Himalayas, political anthropology, and refugees and immigration among other topics. She has six years experience providing expert witness testimony for U.S. political asylum cases for Nepali and Tibetan nationals.

Dr David Seddon

Email: criticalfaculty1athotmail [dot] co [dot] uk

Dr Seddon has worked in Nepal as consultant, researcher, teacher and journalist since the mid 1970s. He has visited some 25 of the 75 districts and has been involved, as a social scientist with a PhD in social anthropology, in programmes and projects of various kinds. He has also written widely on issues related to the political economy and development of Nepal, and most recently, the Maoist insurgency and its impact, in the popular as well as the academic sphere. He writes expert witness reports for asylum seekers from Nepal.

Courtney Welton-Mitchell

Email: CourtneyMitchell13atgmail [dot] com

Courtney Welton-Mitchell is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in the U.S. and a doctoral level social psychologist.  She lived and worked in Nepal for nearly 6 years (1998-2003) and is familiar with the language and culture of Nepal, and treatment of Tibetan and Bhutanese refugees. For a portion of her time in Nepal she was the UNWFP program manager for the Bhutanese refugee operation. She returned to Nepal in 2011 and 2013 for work with sexual minorities and research with landless disaster prone communities. She continues to maintain ties to Nepal and is aware of the current political situation, especially for GBV survivors, sexual minorities, and other marginalized groups.

Dr Richard W Whitecross

Email: R [dot] Whitecrossatnapier [dot] ac [dot] uk

Richard Whitecross is a Lecturer in Law at Edinburgh Napier University. He has conducted research on law, human rights and political change in Nepal and Bhutan. A former practising lawyer, Richard has experience of providing Expert reports and is a member of the Law Society of Scotland Immigration and Asylum Committee. He has written and published extensively on Bhutan and the Himalayas. 

Cate Buchanan

Email: cate [dot] buchananatathenaconsortium [dot] org

Cate Buchanan is a peace process specialist with proven subject expertise on armed violence prevention and reduction, gun control, gender inclusion and participation, harm reduction and drug policy, and evidence-based policymaking. With an established interest in public policy, she has a strong skill-set in policy analysis, strategy development, training, and programme implementation. Cate has worked with peace process actors related to conflicts in Abkhazia, Georgia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, South Ossetia, Sudan, Thailand, Timor-Leste and elsewhere, as well as at the global policy level. Previous roles include Chief Editor of the book "Gun Violence, Disability and Recovery"(2014). Cate worked for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) from 2001 to 2013, firstly managing the Arms Programme, and from 2008 as a consultant and Senior Adviser implementing a portfolio of work incorporating gender into operations and policy and supporting HD's work in Asia. She has also worked as a consultant to the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery of the UN Development Programme, drafting a module for the UN International Small Arms Control Standards and programme guidance on strengthening national gun laws. 

Michael J Hutt

Email: mh8atsoas [dot] ac [dot] uk

Michael Hutt is a Professor of Nepali and Himalayan Studies and Director of the South Asia Institute at SOAS. He was Head of the South Asia Department from 1995-9, and has served as both Associate Dean (2002-4) and Dean (2004-10) of the Faculty of Languages and Cultures. He has been a member of the executive committee of the Britain-Nepal Academic Council ever since its foundation in 2000, and its chairman since 2010; he has also served two terms as editor of the European Bulletin of Himalayan Research. Michael Hutt was appointed as the chair of the British Academy's South Asia area panel in 2014. He has published on Nepali and Bhutanese politics, the Nepali diaspora in India and the Bhutanese refugee issue. Between 2010 and 2013 Hutt was the co-director of a British Academy-funded International Partnership project on the construction of public meaning in contemporary Nepal, working with colleagues at Martin Chautari in Kathmandu.  In 2011 he was awarded the Nai-Derukha International Prize ‘for his continuous dedication to promoting the study of Nepali literature in the international arena’ (see here).

Heather Hindman

Email: h [dot] hindmanatmail [dot] utexas [dot] edu

Heather Hindman is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her recently published book, Mediating the Global: Expatria’s Forms and Consequences in Kathmandu (Stanford University Press, 2013), explores the bureaucratic constrictures of employment policy on elite transnational laborers in Nepal, as well as their everyday perpetuation of similar forms of ‘best practices’ regulation. Other published work includes: Nepal's recovery: can international aid break entrenched patterns? (2015) and The Hollowing Out of Aidland: Subcontracting and the New Development Family in Nepal (2011). 

Dr Steven Folmar

Email: folmarsjatwfu [dot] edu

Steven Folmar (Ph.D., Case Western Reserve), is an applied cultural anthropologist whose main interests are in Medical Anthropology, Religion and Development. He has conducted fieldwork in Bangladesh, India, and the United States, but his primary, ongoing research interests are in Nepal, where he also conducts the Summer Program in Nepal. He is involved with the Center for International Studies, assisting with issues of cultural competency at Wake Forest. Finally, Dr. Folmar works closely with NGOs (he is on the Advisory Committee of the International Commission for Dalit Rights) and committees in Nepal to help Dalits pursue equal political and social status and relevant development goals. A critical concern is also to assist Dalit and other communities in need to pursue development needs they identify as being needed. Dr Folmar's recent publications include: Digging for Dalit: Social Justice and an Inclusive Anthropology of Nepal (2015), Discourse on Dignity (2015) and Oppression, Mental Health and the House Science Committee (2014).  

Sienna Craig

Email: Sienna [dot] R [dot] Craigatdartmouth [dot] edu

Sienna Craig is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. At Dartmouth, Sienna teaches courses on Health and Illness, Global Health, Asian Medical Systems, Tibet and the Himalaya, and other segments of the department’s cultural anthropology curriculum. She has also conducted research on women’s and children’s health, migration and social change, and the impacts and politics of health-development interventions. Sienna received her BA in religious studies from Brown University in 1995. She first visited Nepal in 1993, through a college semester abroad program. Upon completion of her BA, Sienna was granted a Fulbright Fellowship to return to Nepal and continue the ethnographic research and writing she had begun while studying abroad. Sienna lived in Nepal from 1995-1998, working as a freelance writer, editor, experiential educator, trekking guide, and development consultant. Although she no longer lives in Nepal, she has continued to return to Nepal at least once a year. Sienna co-founded DROKPA, a non-profit organization whose mission is to partner with pastoral communities in the Himalaya and Central Asia to implement grassroots development and catalyze social entrepreneurship. DROKPA currently funds projects in Nepal, Ladakh, India, Bhutan, and the Tibet Autonomous Region, China, in the following areas: alternative energy, education and training, community health and Tibetan medicine, and social entrepreneurship. Sienna is currently the co-editor of Himalaya, the journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies. She is also the Chair of the Medical Advisory Board for One Heart World-Wide. She has published widely in both academic and popular venues.

Prof Nancy Levine

Email: nelevineatanthro [dot] ucla [dot] edu

Nancy Levine is a Social Anthropologist, the Professor and Chair of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Professor Levine has conducted numerous field projects, including research on Tibetan societies in Nepal and in China where she explored the rationale in various systems of kinship and marriage, parenting, and demographic change. Her current research focuses on studying the impact of transitions to a market economy and government-sponsored land privatization and sedentarization on family and society among ethnic Tibetan nomadic pastoralists in China’s Gansu Province, Sichuan Province and Qinghai Province. Professor Levine is currently working on manuscript titled: Living on the Margins:  Family and Economy in Northwest Nepal.

Dr Mark Turin

Email: mark [dot] turinatubc [dot] ca

Mark Turin (PhD, Linguistics, Leiden University, 2006) is an anthropologist, linguist and radio presenter. Before joining the University of British Columbia as Chair of the First Nations and Endangered Languages Program and Associate Professor of Anthropology, Mark was an Associate Research Scientist with the South Asian Studies Council at Yale University, and the Founding Program Director of the Yale Himalaya Initiative. He continues to hold an appointment as Visiting Associate Professor at the Yale School Forestry & Environmental Studies. Prior to Yale, Mark was a Research Associate at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. At UBC, Mark is an Associate Member of the Department of Asian Studies an Affiliate Member of the Institute of Asian Research. Mark directs both the World Oral Literature Project, an urgent global initiative to document and make accessible endangered oral literatures before they disappear without record, and the Digital Himalaya Project which he co-founded in 2000 as a platform to make multi-media resources from the Himalayan region widely available online. Mark has held research appointments at Cornell and Leipzig universities, as well as the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology in Sikkim, India. From 2007 to 2008, he served as Chief of Translation and Interpretation at the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN). Mark Turin writes and teaches on ethnolinguistics, language endangerment, visual anthropology, digital archives and fieldwork methodology. He is the author or co-author of four books, three travel guides, the editor of eight volumes, the co-editor of the journal Himalaya and he edits a series on oral literature. Mark is a regular BBC presenter on issues of linguistic diversity and language endangerment. He also serves as Advisor to the Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project.