Day 3: 27 July

Home / Conference 2018 / Day 3: 27 July

2018

Day 3: 27 July (Friday)
SESSION 9: 9 – 10:40 am
HALL A
HALL B
Panel A9
Panel B9
Aims of Education: Resources and Mobilisation
Chair: Lok Ranjan Parajuli 
Martin Chautari
Discussant: Thomas B. Robertson 
Fulbright Comission – Nepal
Re/Construction: Expertise, Politics, and Materiality in Nepal’s Ongoing Transformation (Panel A)
(Convener: Sara Shneiderman)
Chair: Cameron Warner
Aarhus University
Discussant: Philippe Le Billon
University of British Columbia
Yoko Ishikura Independent researcher In the Name of Children’s Rights: Rethinking The Rhetoric of Schools as Zones of Peace and Prohibitions on Student Involvement in Party-Based Activities in Nepal Sara Shneiderman
Associate Professor in Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada
Expertise, Labour and Mobility in Nepal’s Post-conflict, Post-disaster Reconstruction
Shak Bahadur Budhathoki
Associate Researcher, Martin Chautari, Nepal
The Dynamics of Financial Accountability in Nepal’s Community Schools Dan V. Hirslund
Department for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Chains of Exploitation: Skills, Solidarity and Survival in Kathmandu’s Urban Construction Industry
Bishnu Pandey
Faculty, Civil Engineering, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Canada
Untangling the Technology-society Knot: An Engineer’s Social Scientific Observations of the Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Process in Rural Nepal
BREAK: 10:40 – 11:10 am (refreshments will be served in the dining hall)
SESSION 10: 11:10 am – 12:50 pm
HALL A HALL B
Panel A10 Panel B10
Change in Relations: Effects of Migration on Left-behind Families
Chair: Bandita Sijapati
Researcher
Discussant: Sanjaya Aryal 
University of Essex
(Convener: Sara Shneiderman)
Chair: Nabin Rawal
Tribhuvan University
Discussant: Katharine Rankin
University of Toronto
Ram Narayan Shrestha

PhD Candidate, South Asian University, New Delhi, India

Krishna Sharma
Consultant, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi
Dinesh Paudel
Assistant Professor, Department of Sustainable Development, Appalachian State University, USA
Philippe Le Billon
Professor, Department of Geography & Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Canada
Ram Narayan Shrestha
PhD Candidate, South Asian University, New Delhi, India
Migrant Husbands and Left-behind Wives: Effect of Spousal Separation on Subjective Well-being of Young Nepali Women Omer Aijazi
Sessional Instructor, PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia
Infrastructures of Social Repair: Insights from Northern Pakistan and Kashmir
Anchala Chaudhary
Lecturer in Sociology, Prithvi Narayan Campus, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
Livelihood Practices in Transnational Space (A Case Study of Family Left Behind in Nepal) Amrita Gurung Research Associate, Social Science Baha
Jeevan Baniya
Assistant Director, Social Science Baha, Kathmandu, Nepal
I/NGOs working modalities and its impact in relation to humanitarian responses post-earthquake 2015: Empirical evidence from Gorkha, Sindhupalchwok and Southern LalitpurState-Society Relationships After Nepal’s 2015 Earthquakes
LUNCH BREAK: 12:50 – 1:45 pm (served in the dining hall)
SESSION 11: 1:45 – 3:25 pm
HALL A HALL B
Panel A11
Panel B11
Aspirations and Identity: New and Old
Chair: Mukta Singh Lama
Tribhuvan University
Discussant: John Whelpton
Chinese Unversity of Hong Kong
Inclusion and Representation in Federal Nepal
Chair: Youba Raj Luintel 
Tribhuvan University
Discussant: Tatsuro Fujikura 
Nepal Academic Network (Japan) 
Avash Piya
Aarhus University, Denmark
Sanjaya Mahato

Researcher, Social Science Baha

Pooja Chaudhary
Research Assistant, Social Science Baha, Nepal
Wai-Man Tang
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Mahendra Lawoti
Professor, Department of Political Science, Western Michigan University
Anup Shekhar Chakraborty
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Political Studies, Netaji Institute for Asian Studies, India
Dhana Hamal
Political Science Department, Alumna, University of Toronto, Canada
BREAK: 3:25 – 3:55 pm (refreshments will be served in the dining hall)
SESSION 12: 3:55 – 5:40 pm
HALL B
Panel B12
Modernity and Materiality in Development
Chair: Steven Folmar 
Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies
Discussant: Dannah Dennis
New York University Shanghai
Lopita Nath
Professor of History, University of the Incarnate Word, Texas
Thomas B. Robertson
Executive Director, Fulbright Commission – Nepal
Youba Raj Luintel
Associate Professor, Central Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
Closing Remarks
Steven Folmar
Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies

Abstracts


Panel A9: Aims of Education: Resources and Mobilisation
Chair: Lok Ranjan Parajuli, Senior Researcher, Martin Chautari, Nepal
Discussant: Thomas B. Robertson, Executive Director, Fulbright Commission – Nepal

Paper 1: In the Name of Children’s Rights: Rethinking The Rhetoric of Schools as Zones of Peace and Prohibitions on Student Involvement in Party-Based Activities in Nepal
Author: Yoko Ishikura
Affiliation:  Independent researcher

Abstract: The protection of children living in areas of armed conflicts has now become one of the prime objectives of humanitarian and development agencies across the world. Among the practices, securing children’s access to education during political violence has gained growing attention since the early 2000s. Commensurately, the action disrupting children’s access to education has come to be seen as a violation of child protection.

The effort to protect children’s right to education was introduced to Nepal during the “People’s War”, which was launched by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) against the government in 1996. Since then, the effort, called Schools as Zones of Peace (SZOP), followed more than a decade-­‐long advocacy campaign by international organizations. Finally, the government of Nepal endorsed SZOP as a national directive in 2011. This directive aims to secure children’s rights to access education by excluding three types of activities from schools: 1) armed activities, 2) party-­‐based politics and 3) discrimination. Major provisions among them are aimed at regulating student involvement in activities and organizations affiliated with political parties. These provisions were based on the historical recognition that children’s right to access education has been consistently threatened by political parties throughout the People’s War and the surge of protests by ethnic-­‐based political parties in the post-­‐conflict period. However, there exists a body of work that brings into doubt these assumptions underlying SZOP.

Drawing on interviews with teachers at a public secondary school in Kathmandu, this article examines the validity of these assumptions by exploring how the teachers understand and practice SZOP at the school. The overall finding is that although the teachers I interviewed agreed with SZOP’s prohibition against the mobilization of the school and its closure by political parties as a means to pressure the government, they did not consider students’ affiliation with a political party, per se, as a problem. Rather, they appreciated certain community-­‐related activities run by the political party and its affiliated student organization. Thus, the teachers regulate their students’ participation in party-­‐related activities only during school hours, but not outside of school hours. The teachers rather expressed their concern that the text of SZOP can be interpreted as preventing student participation not only in party-­‐ based activities but also in all types of political activities.

These findings call for the reconsideration of SZOP’s victim image of Nepalese students in relation to “politics”. By emphasizing political party’s “misuse” of students, SZOP has a risk of silencing students’ active engagement in political activities and civic engagements that are appreciated by the people. This article also argues that application of SZOP on Madhesh political struggle needs to be sensitive.

This article begins by reviewing the context upon which SZPOP was initiated in Nepal. I then explain the rationale of SZOP and its decade-­‐long advocacy campaign. These notions will then be contested with the data from my fieldwork carried out in Kathmandu from October to November 2015. Finally, I draw out implications for policy and practice, and suggest directions for further research.

go back


Paper 2: The Dynamics of Financial Accountability in Nepal’s Community Schools
Author: Shak Bahadur Budhathoki
Affiliation: Associate Researcher, Martin Chautari, Nepal

Abstract: In the last two decades, Nepal’s education system has undergone significant decentralization process conferring financial powers and responsibilities, among others, to the school actors. At the school level, head teacher, School Management Committee and accountant should cooperate and collaborate for tasks related to financial transactions. As the major bulk of school funds transferred from the center involves recurrent (mainly teacher-salary) and conditional grants (construction, scholarship, textbook, etc that has to be used for the specified purpose), school stakeholders can use limited funds at their own discretion. In this context, to what extent is the performance of local stakeholders consistent with the policy provision and norms set out by the center? How do local stakeholders perceive and practice fiscal accountability in the school context? How do they negotiate their decisions among/between the local actors? And, what factors affect for such decisions making processes?

Drawing on case studies of two community schools, this paper will look at the anomalies between fiscal policies and practices, and explore the dynamics of contextual factors that contribute or constrain in holding school actors accountable in terms of their financial duties and responsibilities. It will further shed light and critique on the mode of Nepal’s decentralization process in the education sector.

go back


Panel B9: Re/Construction: Expertise, Politics, and Materiality in Nepal’s Ongoing Transformation(Panel A)
Panel Convener: Sara Shneiderman, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada
Chair: Cameron Warner, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Aarhus University, Denmark
Discussant: Philippe Le Billon, Professor, Department of Geography & Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Canada

Panel Abstract: This multi-disciplinary double panel showcases the work of scholars involved in the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council-funded Partnership Development Grant, “Expertise, Labour and Mobility in Nepal’s Post-Conflict, Post-Disaster Reconstruction: Construction, Finance, and Law as Sites of Social Transformation”. Led by Sara Shneiderman (University of British Columbia), the partnership includes scholars from anthropology, art history, economics, education, engineering, geography, law, planning, political science, and religious studies.

We explore the following questions: how do domestic professionals come to serve as mediators between earthquake-affected community members and institutional actors implementing reconstruction at the scale of local governance, including the Nepali state and international aid agencies? How are relations of power negotiated at the geopolitical level, and their material outcomes managed on the ground? How are worldviews and practices reshaped along the way for all involved—at local, national, and global levels? How do these interactions intersect with existing pre-earthquake formations of expertise and resource concentration in the engineering profession and construction industry, for example? To what extent does “reconstruction” differ from pre-earthquake patterns of “construction”; in other words, how do we situate the present moment within the longue durée of development and transformation in Nepal over the past several decades? How does the post-disaster experience in Nepal compare with that of other countries in the region?

Each presentation responds to one of these questions in detail, but also links its analysis to the other questions posed. We foreground the roles and potential of domestic expertise and local governance in disaster response—linking this knowledge to literature on international expertise and geopolitics in shaping humanitarian and governmental responses. We situate our inquiry within a critical interdisciplinary social science framework that is also in self-reflexive conversation with scholars and practitioners from the relevant professions themselves. This integrated approach emerges from ongoing collaboration between the partnership members, which began with a September 2017 workshop. Presenting the next stage of our work at the July 2018 Kathmandu conference will enable us to share our research with a broader audience of scholars, and incorporate feedback as we further develop our inquiry over the remaining two years of the project timeline.

go back


Paper 1: Expertise, Labour and Mobility in Nepal’s Post-conflict, Post-disaster
Author: Sara Shneiderman
Affiliation: Associate Professor in Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada

Abstract: This paper provides an introduction to the project’s overarching analytical framework by exploring the keywords of “expertise”, “labour” and “mobility” in Nepal’s ongoing reconstruction process. In Nepal, as elsewhere, seismic and political transformations are entangled with trajectories of mobility shaped by local and transnational labour markets. Families who once would have built their own homes are now required to draw upon the professionalized expertise of engineers if they wish to qualify for government reconstruction subsidies. They are also lacking domestic labour power due to high levels of rural out-migration for wage labour—a pattern that accelerated through the conflict period and was well-established by the time of the earthquakes. At the same time, a cadre of government employed domestic technicians is now migrating into some of the most remote reaches of a country long characterized by precarious infrastructure, challenging topography, and hierarchical patterns of social exclusion. With reference to my ongoing work in Dolakha district, I consider what these multidirectional flows of people —and the forms of expertise that come and go with them—tell us about the relationships among expertise, labour and mobility as vectors of social transformation in places where post-conflict and post-disaster processes of restructuring and reconstruction intersect.

go back


Paper 2: Chains of Exploitation: Skills, Solidarity and Survival in Kathmandu’s Urban Construction Industry
Author: Dan V. Hirslund
Affiliation: Department for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Abstract: This paper investigates labor dynamics among workers in the construction industry in Kathmandu. Based on 6 months fieldwork in 2016, during a slump in the construction industry before the pick-up of earthquake reconstruction, I investigate the difficult situation construction workers faced without social security and only their networks to rely on. Being for the most part migrants, laborers in the construction industry depend entirely on their networks for survival in the urban fabric. I trace the difficult conditions for labor solidarity in a context where construction work depends on hierarchical subcontracting and divisions of skills. I argue that this creates durable fissures between groups of workers, which I suggest can be understood as chains of exploitation.

go back


Paper 3: Untangling the Technology-society Knot: An Engineer’s Social Scientific Observations of the Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Process in Rural Nepal
Author: Bishnu Pandey
Affiliation: Faculty, Civil Engineering, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Canada

Abstract: This paper considers how earthquake housing technologies emanating from engineering theories have met with the social realities of rural villages in the process of reconstructing houses hit by the 2015 Nepal earthquakes. The scale and urgency of the process where several hundred thousand of houses belonging to individuals in villages need to be constructed within a short time with direct involvement of state creates an unprecedented interface between technology and society. This is best exemplified by the inevitable interaction between engineers and rural community members. While engineers who work in villages become the vehicle of the techno-legal regime established by the state through building codes and construction compliance guidelines, rural residents never subjected to such regulation and technological prescriptions in the past have a hard time integrating them into their life styles. The incompatibility is aggravated by the fact that engineers are hardly trained in social needs, constraints and communication; the government guidelines do not necessarily address the local context; and there is a lack of trained craft persons who actually translate the guidelines into actual implementation. I observed these challenges during my yearlong engagement as an engineer in the reconstruction of houses in rural areas and documented the perspectives from both engineering and social scientific perspectives. The paper also explores potential ways out: how these knots in the technical-social interface can be untangled and straightened with proper understanding of how different forms of expertise in reconstruction would and should work in tandem.

go back


Panel A10: Change in Relations: Effects of Migration on Left-behind Families
Chair: Bandita Sijapati, Researcher
Discussant: Sanjaya Aryal, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Essex

Paper 1: Migration and Agrarian Change in Nepal Plains
Author: Ram Narayan Shrestha 1 and Krishna Sharma 2
Affiliation:  1PhD Candidate, South Asian University, New Delhi, India; 2Consultant, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi

Abstract: The widespread phenomenon of labor migration in Nepal has impacted every sector of the economy. There has been numerous study on evaluating the effect of migration on nation’s GDP, growth in the economy and in other macro-economic aspects. Also, the effect of remittance received from the migrants on Nepal’s economy has been cliché among many policy maker and scholars. It is found that the study on the effect of migrants on household’s life has often sidelined.  Therefore, the present study makes an attempt to study on effect of migration on social and economic structure of the society at ground level. Despite the gloomy scenario of the agriculture, the agriculture is still a major sector of the nation’s economy contributing approximately 30 percent to nation’s GDP where almost 60 percent of the population are still engaged. Hence, the study was carried out to study the effect of migration pattern on agricultural households.

Using primary survey data (qualitative and quantitative) from the three districts of Terai/Madesh of Nepal the paper attempts to look at the impact on various economic outcomes of agricultural households such as farm business income, saving, usage of financial services, employment generation. It also makes an attempt to look at change in tenancy pattern, agrarian relation, land holding distribution, farm business income, local labor market, agricultural production. The scope for the modernization of the agriculture and adoption of modern technology and factors affecting this are also explored. Finally, it tries to capture relation between the tendency of youth to migrate and attitude towards agriculture in the plains of Nepal.

go back


Paper 2: Migrant Husbands and Left-behind Wives: Effect of Spousal Separation on Subjective Well-being of Young Nepali Women
Author: Ram Narayan Shrestha
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, South Asian University, New Delhi, India

Abstract: Migration may be seen as household strategy to maximize household welfare in which other members of the family are heavily involved. The migration of male members of family, however, may push female members of household into various forms of vulnerabilities as well as new form of opportunities. The “left-behind” wives of the migrants will have to bear new responsibilities in the family. Some studies have shown that the male outmigration and resulting remittance flow have helped in improving family consumption and welfare, “gender empowerment” and gender norms. However, wives of migrants have to bear higher cost in terms of emotional detachment and loss of intimacy, increased care responsibilities, etc. Determinant of the effect of husband’s migration on the welfare of the wives is complex and not easily captured by some dimensions of welfare like household income, consumption, etc. alone. We use subjective well-being (SBW) as measure to capture the effect of husband’s migration on the welfare of the wife of the migrants.

The massive outmigration of Nepali youths in search of employment is common phenomenon in Nepal. It has impacted every aspects of life in Nepali society. The recent data shows that husband of about 34 percent of married women lives away from their home and almost half of them are living away for a year or more. Undoubtedly, the spousal separation has social, economic and emotional effects on “left-behind wives”. The effects are reflected in the welfare of the family, changing gender role, increased household care responsibilities, labor supplies, etc.  However, there is scant literature on the effect of spousal separation on wellbeing of those left-behind wives. The purpose of this study is to explore the various aspects of well-being the spousal separation on the left-behind wives. Using household level data from the Multiple Indicator cluster Survey (MICS), this paper access the impact of spousal separation on the subjective well-being of the young left-behind wives and the determinants of their subjective well-being.

go back


Paper 3: Livelihood Practices in Transnational Space (A Case Study of Family Left Behind in Nepal)
Author: Anchala Chaudhary
Affiliation: Lecturer in Sociology, Prithvi Narayan Campus, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Abstract: Migration has become an essential livelihood practice for individuals from both the poor and the relatively well-off households due, mainly to the processes of urbanization and globalization. This paper trace the impacts of migration on livelihood practices by drawing on the outcome of field studies in Garuda Municipality compromising multiethnic people of Eastern Nepal. The methodology for identifying informant is social survey followed by in-depth interview followed by semi-structured questionnaire and time line interview, examining the variation among social, economic, educational and employment nature before and after the migration. This comparison shows considerable changes among livelihood practices adopted by migrants family. Migration involves a large network of social relations. These networks involve exchanges of salient ideas, practices, and resources not only among migrants and non-migrants but also within the migrants and non-migrants themselves. Migrants remit and support their family back home by remitting not only money but also a new culture that he/she encounter in the place of migration. These exchanges can be gauged in the daily activities of non-migrants left behind. The family left behind disengage themselves from traditional occupation such as livestock and cereal farming and engage in new cash generating activities such as stitching, embroidery, handicrafts, and so on. The stay-behind family especially, wives become almost solely responsible not only for raising and educating their children but also for managing household’s chores as well as performing activities that link the household with the world outside. Thus, migration provides ground for nurturing a woman’s autonomy, self-esteem as also to expand their roles as they take on additional non-domestic tasks.

go back


Panel B10: Re/Construction: Expertise, Politics, and Materiality in Nepal’s Ongoing Transformation (Panel B)
Chair
: Nabin Rawal, Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
Discussant: Katharine Rankin, Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto, Canada

Panel Abstract: This multi-disciplinary double panel showcases the work of scholars involved in the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council-funded Partnership Development Grant, “Expertise, Labour and Mobility in Nepal’s Post-Conflict, Post-Disaster Reconstruction: Construction, Finance, and Law as Sites of Social Transformation”. Led by Sara Shneiderman (University of British Columbia), the partnership includes scholars from anthropology, art history, economics, education, engineering, geography, law, planning, political science, and religious studies.

We explore the following questions: how do domestic professionals come to serve as mediators between earthquake-affected community members and institutional actors implementing reconstruction at the scale of local governance, including the Nepali state and international aid agencies? How are relations of power negotiated at the geopolitical level, and their material outcomes managed on the ground? How are worldviews and practices reshaped along the way for all involved—at local, national, and global levels? How do these interactions intersect with existing pre-earthquake formations of expertise and resource concentration in the engineering profession and construction industry, for example? To what extent does “reconstruction” differ from pre-earthquake patterns of “construction”; in other words, how do we situate the present moment within the longue durée of development and transformation in Nepal over the past several decades? How does the post-disaster experience in Nepal compare with that of other countries in the region?

Each presentation responds to one of these questions in detail, but also links its analysis to the other questions posed. We foreground the roles and potential of domestic expertise and local governance in disaster response—linking this knowledge to literature on international expertise and geopolitics in shaping humanitarian and governmental responses. We situate our inquiry within a critical interdisciplinary social science framework that is also in self-reflexive conversation with scholars and practitioners from the relevant professions themselves. This integrated approach emerges from ongoing collaboration between the partnership members, which began with a September 2017 workshop. Presenting the next stage of our work at the July 2018 Kathmandu conference will enable us to share our research with a broader audience of scholars, and incorporate feedback as we further develop our inquiry over the remaining two years of the project timeline.

go back


Paper 4: The Geopolitics of Post-Earthquake Reconstruction in Nepal
Author: Dinesh Paudel1 and Philippe Le Billon2
Affiliation: 1Assistant Professor, Department of Sustainable Development, Appalachian State University, USA; 2Professor, Department of Geography & Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Canada

Abstract: This paper seeks to contribute to geopolitical economy debates through an examination of some of the ‘aftershocks’ of the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal. Using a critical geopolitical economy perspective, we mobilize concepts of disaster capitalism, geo-politics, and geopolitical assemblages attentive to materialities to examine the discursive and material dimensions of some of the regional and domestic reconfigurations that characterized post-earthquake reconstruction. We first briefly review the literature on disaster capitalism and the political aftershocks of ‘natural disasters’, and elaborate on some of the ‘material’ dimensions within geopolitical and geoeconomic logics of power. We then briefly present the geopolitical economy of postearthquake reconstruction in Nepal, with a focus on three major ‘moments’: the geopolitical mobilization of relief assistance, the accelerated adoption process of a new constitution and subsequent unofficial Indian blockade, and the re-articulation of regional infrastructure networks and Nepal’s inclusion into China’s Belt and Road Initiative. We then empirically investigate these aftershocks through a specific study of two Trans Himalayan corridors and associated hydropower building projects. We conclude with a discussion of the materialities of the geologics of power in the context of major geo-political shocks, in this case the assemblage of mountains, earthquakes, monsoons, regional rivalry, post-conflict multi-party democracy, and post-earthquake financial flows.

go back


Paper 5: Infrastructures of Social Repair: Insights from Northern Pakistan and Kashmir
Author: Omer Aijazi
Affiliation: Sessional Instructor, PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia

Abstract: This paper examines linkages between social repair and reconstruction following natural disasters. In my long-term ethnographic research with marginalized disaster survivors in the Himalayan region of Northern Pakistan and Kashmir, I have come to understand social repair as a heuristic device to capture those genres of life which are crucial for attaining liveable presents and viable futures. In my current thinking, social repair captures those plurality of processes, embodiments and decision-making which enable disaster survivors to carve hospitable lives for themselves despite overwhelming structural constraints. Therefore, I understand social repair as tense, urgent and palpable. Infrastructure plays an important role in how social repair unfolds and is enacted. The role of infrastructure in facilitating or impeding social repair is particularly salient in the Himalayan region where the built environment is incrementally negotiated between local communities and the Pakistani state. In this paper, I seek to particularly examine two things: 1) how humanitarian and state-led reconstruction following the 2005 Northern Pakistan and Kashmir earthquake intercepted or interrupted everyday acts of social repair and 2) how disaster survivors sought to exceed these interruptions. I conclude that natural disasters are then not just “mere glitches in the reproduction of life” (Berlant, 2016) which warrant the replacement of broken infrastructure necessary for sociality to extend, but also revelatory spaces to understand forms of life emerging from within its very brokenness. In that sense, we can no longer afford to understand disaster reconstruction along separate domains of the social and the physical.

go back


Paper 6: I/NGOs working modalities and its impact in relation to humanitarian responses post-earthquake 2015: Empirical evidence from Gorkha, Sindhupalchwok and Southern Lalitpur
Author: Amrita Gurung1 and Jeevan Baniya2
Affiliation: 1Research Associate, Social Science Baha and 2Assistant Director, Social Science Baha, Kathmandu, Nepal

Abstract: The critique of traditional modernist ‘top-down’ development approach for largely dismissing indigenous practices and collective knowledge and skills (Enns et al. 2014) have led scholars to propose participatory development approach as an alternative to humanitarian responses during the time of disaster (Regmi 2016). In lieu of the growing interest and need to localize the humanitarian efforts in relation to ‘comparative advantages and complementarities in different contexts’ (Zyck and Krebs, 2015) partner organizations have worked in partnerships with local organizations in Nepal’s humanitarian response to 2015 earthquake. Drawing on over 90 semi-structured interviews conducted with representatives of I/NGOs and CBOs and community leaders and politicians in three earthquake-affected districts of Nepal – Southern Lalitpur, Sindhupalchowk and Gorkha, the article explores the working strategies, roles and impacts of the role of I/NGOs in the communities. Preliminary findings suggest that I/NGOs response strategies are varied and are shaped by policy framework, priorities and their pre-existing networks etc. In some cases response from the I/NGOs could potentially play crucial role in local capacity building. However, partnerships between I/NGOs and local organizations do not seem to usually translate into substantial changes at local level. Hence, people perceive I/NGOs’ work performance as mere ‘show-and-tell’.

Keywords: Nepal Earthquake 2015, disaster response, humanitarian response, INGOs

go back


Panel A11: Aspirations and Identity: New and Old

Chair: Mukta Singh Lama, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
Discussant: John Whelpton, Honorary Research Associate, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Paper 1: ‘We are also Gurkhas’: Changes in Gurkha Recruitment Policy and the Inclusion Discourse in Nepal
Author: Avash Piya
Affiliation: Aarhus University, Denmark

Abstract: Historically, the recruitment policies of the British Army had been highly non-inclusive to the extent that they had been biased towards certain ethnic groups within Nepal. Gurungs, Magars, Rais and Limbus, which the British had categorised as “martial”, have had a dominant position within the recruitment sector. Their dominance as British Gurkhas continues to this day as they make-up around eighty percent of the total new recruits each year. However, in recent years, the British Army have adopted a policy of ‘free, fair, and transparent’ recruitment, claiming to have moved away from the colonial classifications and preferences for certain kinds of recruits. This has led to the increase in the number of young men from various other ethnic groups to take up foreign military recruitment. A major claim by these groups was the need for inclusion and representation of these groups in the recruitment sector, which derived from the discourse of inclusion prevalent within Nepal.

A key actor instrumental in propagating this new policy were the training centres, which acted as ‘intermediaries’ in the recruitment process. With the decrease in recruitment intake and high competition among the training centres to attract potential trainees, some of the centres employed a strategy to expand their business potential. They organised marketing campaigns to attract new and potential trainees. They took cues from the inclusive debates within Nepal and the policy adopted by the British Army to assist with their cause. In doing so, they reached out to places that were historically not categorised as the heartlands of recruitment, and focused on groups that were historically not classified to become Gurkha soldiers. In this paper, I take the case of one of the training institutions in Pokhara, and the data presented here is from 11 months of fieldwork in Pokhara and Charikot between 2013 -15.

go back


Paper 2: Realities and Aspirations: Kabaddi Players in Far-West Nepal
Author: Wai-Man Tang
Affiliation: Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Abstract: The commercialization of kabaddi in India has created new opportunities for kabaddi players in Nepal. Meanwhile, many studies have shown that “afno manche” (one’s own people), which is usually associated with favoritism, as a cultural norm in Nepal has limited the opportunities for people at the marginality, including sports players. This paper discusses the aspirations and lived realities of kabaddi players in Dhangadhi, a city in far-west Nepal. Apparently, kabaddi players in this city are the typical players at the marginality. But their experience has profound implications for the changing caste- and gender-relations and definitions of modernity in Nepal. Their experience is explored by using a variety of ethnographic material collected through interviews and participant observation during two periods of fieldwork in Kailali district in the summer of 2015 and 2017. This paper focuses on the inclusiveness of kabaddi in various settings, which shed light on the meanings of tradition and modernity in Nepal.

go back


Paper 3: Representing and Performing the Contested Trans-Himalayan ‘Shared heritages’ of ‘Gorkha’: Virtualisation of the Public Sphere and the Aesthetics of ‘being Gorkha’ in South Asia
Author: Anup Shekhar Chakraborty
Affiliation: Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Political Studies, Netaji Institute for Asian Studies, India

Abstract: The backdrop of the discussion in this study is the native Nepali speaking people in India and their quest to cartographically chart their emic self-defined identity in a map called Gorkhaland in and around Darjeeling in the directional construct ‘North Bengal’ located in the Indian state of West Bengal. The phases of the demand for Chuttei Rajya (separate state) from Chiyasi ko Andolan (1986 Movement) and the current imbroglio (stretched from 2007 to 2017) though showing signs of peculiarities and particularities in terms of the movement, styles of leadership, political agency, participations etc., continues to showcase commonalities, connections, and continuations in the indelible question of identity of the people and its place.

The claims of belonging to martial race- ‘Bir Gorkha’ and linked ‘Gurkha/Gorkha/Gorkhey Identity (Chinari)’ has been strongly contested. ‘Being Gorkha’/‘Being Nepali’, ‘Feeling Gorkha’/ ‘Feeling Nepali’ is severely webbed and caged into experiential and existential paranoia. The virtualisation of the public sphere and the multifold media (both old and new), SMS Jokes, satire, cartoons etc., unleashes a virtual viral wave. The discussion in the paper by weaving across poetry, literary works by the Nepali speaking communities in India, select speeches of political leaders of the Gorkhaland Movement(s), recorded nationalist songs and music videos,[4] local plays such as ‘Bhanu ra Pala’[5], the ‘viral videos’ (2017) such as Seema Subeidi Shrestha versus Nepalese Gorkhas (and also Darjeeling Gorkhas) attempts to bring to the fore the complex politics of representations, performance and aesthetics of the contested claims to the Trans-Himalayan ‘Shared heritages’ of ‘Gorkha’ in South Asia.

go back


Panel B11: Inclusion and Representation in Federal Nepal
Chair: Youba Raj Luintel, Associate Professor, Central Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University
Discussant: Tatsuro Fujikura,
 Nepal Academic Network (Japan)

Paper 1: Token Versus Team Work: Women in the Local Bodies of Nepal 2017
Author: Sanjaya Mahato 1 and Pooja Chaudhary 2
Affiliation: 1Researcher, Social Science Baha; 2Research Assistant, Social Science Baha, Nepal

Abstract: The paper discusses the debate of women’s inclusion in public spaces as a token or team work.  Women’s inclusion in Nepalese   politics since 1950s – whether it is a democratic space or King’s autocratic space – was mostly treated and taken as a token – means of decoration to show that they are kind to women. Moreover, political structure and mind set of male political leaders never allowed women to be a team work in both legislatures and local bodies. Women’s political participation and policy discussion were often prevented by either party whips or making apex political and judicial bodies for dispute resolution. With the local election data 2017 and reviewing the constitutions, policies and directives we will argue that with constitutional and political mandate, elected women in the local bodies cannot be a token but a team work. Women in public space whether as a token or team work is determined by their works and responsibilities. Despite most of the women are elected in deputy posts in both municipalities and rural municipalities in the local body election 2017 but the constitutional mandate recognize them as a team work. For instance deputy mayors and vice-chairs of the local bodies are assigned as a head of judicial committee and planning and monitoring division. Therefore, women in the local bodies cannot be taken as a token but as a team work.

Key Words: Women, Representation, Token, Team Work, and Election

go back


Paper 2: When Do Minorities Get Autonomy, And When Do They Not? Marginalized Groups and Movements for Federal Autonomy in Nepal
Author: Mahendra Lawoti
Affiliation: Professor, Department of Political Science, Western Michigan University

Abstract: Even though a broad spectrum of scholars studying ethnic conflict agree that autonomy should be awarded to territorially concentrated ethnic groups to manage conflict in multiethnic societies (Lijphart 1976; Horowitz 1985; Elazar 1987; Gurr 1993; Kymlicka 1996; Watts 1999), the idea is highly contested at the political level. Thus, even though many ethnic groups around the world have demanded autonomy, the ruling groups controlling the state have seldom granted it. Many minorities continue to struggle for it, peacefully as well as through violent means. In this context, this paper asks when do minorities become able to attain autonomy and when do they fail? This paper answers this question with the case study of Nepal where the 2015 Constitution awarded autonomy to a group (Madhesi), even though in a truncated form, while rejecting the demand of other minority groups (Hill and Tarai indigenous nationalities). Nepal is a suitable case for answering this question because it contains two set of groups that have achieved varied outcomes (attainment versus failure), enabling examination of the necessary as well as sufficient conditions for attaining autonomy following Mills’ Method of Difference.

I will compare population concentration and proportion, international support, cohesiveness of identity, commonality of language, history of political movement, history of political party formation, education, and material wellbeing between Madhesi and indigenous nationalities (Limbu among Hill and Western Tharu among Tarai groups, the two most mobilized among respective groups) to examine factors that contributed in attaining autonomy. Common language and cohesive identity appear to be necessary but not sufficient condition as not only Madhesi enjoy cohesive identity and share common language (Hindi) but also Limbu and Western Tharus (Tarai), who failed to get autonomy, share language and enjoy cohesive identity. What seems to make the difference is territorial concentration and proportion of population. A majority population in the eastern Madhes enabled the group to launch effective movements in the region while the lack of majority in respective regions hindered the Limbu and Tharu from sustaining movements, especially when the state and ruling groups countered them. The long history of political movement (Limbu) did not appear to enable a sustained movement while the longest history of political party formation (Madhesi) was crucial in the mobilization of the Madhesi masses while shorter history probably hindered the Tharus from effective mobilization of their moderately sized population. International support to the Madhesi may have also played a significant role. The paper will trace how common language contributed to formation of cohesive identities, which in turn contributed to launching movements. However, the longer history of party formation enabled the Madhesi to mobilize its majority population effectively to force the state in awarding autonomy whereas the Limbu and Tharu, who were not majority in their own regions, were not able to sustain long movements and thwart counter movement of the ruling elite, which then rejected their demands for autonomy.

go back


Paper 3: Nepal’s Federal Structure and Its Effects on Democratic Politics
Author: Dhana Hamal
Affiliation: Political Science Department, Alumna, University of Toronto, Canada

Abstract: Nepal’s federalism debate has taken many turns over the last decade. In particular, the discussions on ethnicity-based federalism has been a much contested one. Scholars in favor of ethnic federalism such as Mahendra Lawoti strongly argued that creating federations along ethnic lines is the only way to dismantle the status quo, and the centuries of prior regional and class/caste based exclusion to develop a strong democracy. Others such as Lovise Aalen & Magnus Hatlebakk, comparing Ethiopia’s case with Nepal, provided a “cautionary tale” about the use of ethno-politics and federalism demands that had real democratic sources but turn into an anti-democratic tool of party dictatorship. This paper discusses comparative work on Nepal’s democratic transition to explore competing views on democracy and federalism.

At the theoretical level, scholars have at times emphasized the anti-democratic features of federalism, in which the will of small regional states prevents large-scale political action by a national majority (Riker 1964). In part, this is the point – to empower localities or sub-groups against the larger majority. This approach has been challenged by Stepan, who argues that only some federalisms are truly “demos-constraining” and that developing countries (like Nepal) do not have to choose between greater democracy or greater ethnic or minority political rights on the other (Stepan 1999). More broadly, work on the ideal of “multicultural citizenship” or a “politics of representation” has helped to change how the concept of democracy is analyzed within political science, with major implications for the study of ethnic federalism (Kymlicka 1995; Taylor 1992; Young 1990).

In this paper, I focus on the extent to which democratization is strengthened or weakened by the creation of federal structures, especially when ethnic conflict or grievance is the driving force behind federalism. Using a comparative politics perspective, I will discuss the dynamics of federalism in developing countries like Nepal, in fragile affluent federations like the European Union, or within increasingly polarized federated states like the United States. The idea that federalism is a kind of cure-all for democratizing states has been challenged, as in work on post-Franco Spain by Omar Encarnacion (2001) that explores the ways that federalism has contributed to building a democratic society, but also failed to prevent violent ethnic conflict or separatist politics. Drawing on material I used for my master’s thesis about ethnic federalization as well as new research that has emerged since September 2015, I ask: What are the roles of regional, national, or ethnically-identified political parties since Nepal has adopted a federal system? In the end, I will propose a comparative politics methodology to study the effects of the new federal structure on democratization, as measured by several variables, in two different districts in Nepal.

go back


Panel B12: Modernity and Materiality in Development
Chair: Steven Folmar, Executive Council Member, Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies
Discussant: Dannah Dennis,  
Global Perspectives on Society Teaching Fellow, New York University Shanghai

Paper 1: An Old Monarchy, A New Democracy and Gross National Happiness in Bhutan: A Holistic Approach for Sustainable Development
Author: Lopita Nath
Affiliation: Professor of History, University of the Incarnate Word, Texas

Abstract: In the 21st century Bhutan has re-established its geopolitical identity by adopting a new system of government, a new constitution and also creating a global interest in their policy of Gross National Happiness. Leo Rose, in his seminal 1977 work, “The Politics of Bhutan”, observes that there is “no other political system presently extant with which the Bhutanese polity is comparable in either its ‘traditional’ polity or its process of political development.” In 2008 Bhutan adopted a democratic system of government with the approval of the Monarchy. The new democracy still works with the consent of the 5th King of Bhutan, as the Head of State. The new governance structure of Bhutan is intrinsically tied to its holistic state policy of Gross National Happiness (GNH), which Bhutan adopted as a state policy, pioneered by the 4th king in 1972. This paper discusses the process of democratization in Bhutan and   role of the monarchy in the new governance. This paper examines how the new governance structure of Bhutan, has succeeded in adapting to the state policy of GNH. The paper is based on fieldwork in Bhutan, and interviews with government officials including the Speaker of the National Assembly, journalists and other researchers in Bhutan involved with implementing the policy of GNH under the new democratic government. The research seeks to answer the following questions: How has Bhutan made the transition from Monarchy to Democracy? What is the role of the Monarchy in the new democratic Bhutan? How has the new government implemented the policy of GNH? What has been the impact of GNH on the people, including the different ethnicities living in Bhutan?  What has been the international response to GNH? Despite challenges, the new governance in Bhutan, has developed a holistic vision of sustainable development for its people under the banner of Gross National Happiness.

The paper will be based on the following outline:
Introduction: Where is Bhutan in the 21st century?
The Monarchy in Bhutan.
Development of democratic institutions in Bhutan
The new democracy: Constitution and Elections
Gross National Happiness and its implementation and global impact
Transition from Monarchy to Democracy
Holistic vision of sustainable development
Conclusion

go back


Paper 2: DDT, Dang, and Land Reform: ‘Backwards’ Development in Nepal’s Western Inner Tarai in the 1960s
Author: Thomas B. Robertson
Affiliation: Executive Director, Fulbright Commission – Nepal

Abstract: In 1965, the government of Nepal, with support from the US and WHO, launched a malaria eradication program in western Nepal. The program was accompanied by a land reform program, which was, at least initially, pushed by the U.S. Based on archival and recent ethnographic research, this paper examines the effects of these programs, especially within the Dang Valley, one of Nepal’s largest valleys, where the outcome was especially dramatic. There, the malaria program and land reform combined with local patterns of labor exploitation in a way that spurred the out-migration of thousands of indigenous Tharus. The goal of this paper is to figure out what happened and why.

Until the 1960s, much of Nepal’s southern strip—a lowlying stretch called the tarai—was malarious. A joint U.S., WHO, and government of Nepal eradication program remade the country, but has gone understudied. Examining this history provides a rich opportunity to combine international relations history, environmental history, medical anthropology, and local history.

Despite Dang’s malaria, the area was historically populated by Tharus, who suffered from malaria but not to the extent of their highland neighbors. From at least the nineteenth century, high-caste elites from the nearby hills had acquired land in the valley and used Tharu tenants as a labor source. The landlords would come in the winter, and leave when the weather turned warmer, often carried by Tharu laborers.

The eradication of malaria and the land reform program upended this system, but the benefits were far from uniformly positive. At first, the change brought relief to the Tharu, because it meant the end of carrying their landlords and supplies to and from the hills. But eradication allowed the hill landlords to stay in Dang year-round, which increased the burden on Tharu. At the same time, the land reform program encouraged the selling off of lands, which opened the door for many more, but smaller, landlords to come from the hills. Some of these migrants displaced Tharu workers, while others took in Tharu servants.

In addition to examining these dynamics and attempting to quantify the outmigration, this paper also examines the effects of these programs on the kamaiya system of bonded-labor that was common in this area in the 1970s and 1980s and became the center of “free kamaya” social movement in the 1990s.

go back


Paper 3: The Expanding and Consolidating ‘Middle Class’ in Contemporary Nepal
Author: Youba Raj Luintel
Affiliation: Associate Professor, Central Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Abstract: While the ‘middle class’ elsewhere is said to be vanishing especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the concomitant ‘end of history’ (Fukuyama 1992), and the market triumphalism (for critique, see Sandel 2012), in countries like Nepal, however, the middle class is expanding and consolidating throughout. Taken in gradational sense (Weber 1922) the debate on middle class spans nearly over 100 years, and alternatively, when taken in relational sense the debate crosses over 170 years or so (Marx and Engels 1848). The debate has revived after the turn of the century.

In this paper, I plan to present a frame of analysis of the ‘middle class’ in the context of Nepali society in the riddle of unprecedented socio-political transition, 1990-2017. I argue that instead of vanishing (Temin 2017) and collapsing or disappearing (Warren 2008), the middle class in Nepal is reproducing, expanding and consolidating itself. I plan to base my arguments on an examination of income rise and corresponding decline in poverty and deprivation in Nepal over the last few decades; a critical examination of expanding connectivity, modernity and developmental practices; an analysis of shifting regimes of livelihoods and proliferation of market-based exchange relations; and finally, a broad stork analysis of the complex historical regime of Nepal’s state formation and the attendant socio-political development.

go back