Technologies of the Voice: FM Radio, Telephone, and the Nepali Diaspora in Kathmandu



Through the public broadcast of intimate telephone conversations between Nepalis abroad and those in Kathmandu, the diaspora is made “present” in Kathmandu. On these commercial FM programs, the voice is viewed as a key sign of emotional directness, authenticity, and intimacy. Simultaneously, the figure of the voice has been central in discussions about the promises (and failures) of democracy and transparent governance. These two seemingly distinct formations of voice are mutually constitutive. Sentimental discourse about the voice reiterates modern neoliberal discourse about democracy and vice versa. Both are crucial to the formation of an urban Nepali subject in this political moment, which is deeply shaped by the figure of the diaspora.