Nepal and the Himalaya
The Annual Kathmandu Conference on
24-26 July, 2019
Hotel Shanker, Lazimpat, Kathmandu
Register Online


S. No.PresentersAffiliationAbstract
1Abha LalIndependent Researcher based at Martin Chautari, Kathmandu, Nepal and Desk Editor at The RecordWhen There Was a King There Was Unity: An Exploration of Nostalgia for the Monarchy
6Anisa BhutiaPhD Scholar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, IndiaKalimpong and Its Cosmopolitan Enclave: ‘Lost Town’ in the Eastern Himalayas
8Anup Shekhar ChakrabortyAssistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Political Studies, Netaji Institute for Asian Studies, Kolkata, IndiaEnduring Islam and ‘Muslimness’ in Trans-Himalayas: Some Reflections from the Case of the Gorkha Muslims and Tibetan Muslims in the Eastern Himalayan Town of Darjeeling, India
4Amanda Taylor, Claire Blaser, and Martin Brooks*Postgraduate (MA) Student, SOAS, University of London, London, UK; *Postgraduate Associate, SOAS, University of LondonNew Insights into Colonial Encounters in the Himalaya
5Amar BKPhD Candidate, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USAGender and Suffering among Urban Woman in Nepal
2Aidan Seale-FeldmanPostdoctoral Research Associate and Lecturer, Bioethics Program, University of Virginia, Virginia, USAThinking with Ghosts: Bhut laagyo, Hysteria, and the Politics of Conceptualization
3Alfred PachProgram Coordinator, RENEW International, New Jersey, USAReligion and Ritual in Contemporary Nepali Society: Expanding and Transforming Continuities in Khalikhane Ritual Practices
9Austin LordPhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Cornell University, New York, USAUnsecured Volumes: Prognostic Politics and Infrastructural Futures in Nepal
12Bryony WhitmarshAssociate Dean (Global Engagement), Faculties of Creative and Cultural Industries and Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UKFrom Darbar to Sañgrahalaya: Creating New History in the Narayanhiti Palace, Nepal
11Bhim Narayan RegmiLecturer, Central Department of Linguistics, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, NepalAdditional Official Language Policy of Nepal: A Review
13Chiranjibi BhandariAssistant Professor, Department of Conflict, Peace and Development Studies, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, NepalRevisiting Ex-Combatants: Past Assumptions and Present Realities
16Dipak Bahadur AdhikariLecturer of Economics at Patan Multiple Campus, Lalitpur, NepalInformal Economy and Its Contribution to Poverty Reduction in Urban Area of Nepal
17Harsha Man MaharjanResearcher, Martin Chautari, Kathmandu, NepalFrom Media Accountability to Violence: Audience Participation and Opposition in the Proposed LED Bulb Procurement Episode on Social Media
18Isha GhartiPhD Candidate, Chiangmai University, Chiangmai, ThailandDevelopment and Shifting Identities of Nepal’s Marginalized Communities
20Jinglu Song, Bo Huang, and Rishikesh PandeyDepartment of Urban Planning and Design, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Hong Kong; Institute of Space and Earth Information Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T.; School of Development and Social Engineering, Pokhara University, Pokhara, NepalThe Determinants of Disaster – Resilience in the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal: An Assessment of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience in Nepal after 2015 Earthquake
19Jeevan Baniya, Tracy Ghale, Nilima Rai*, Amit Gautam*, and Lacchindra MaharjanAssistant Director, Senior Research Associate, *Research Associate, Social Science Baha, Kathmandu, Nepal; Save the Children, Kathmandu, NepalWhy Children Matter: Vulnerabilities and Needs of Children in Disasters
21Katherine ChengMA Student in Development Studies, York University, Ontario, CanadaGlobal China or South-South Neighbour? A Case Study of Health Aid from Beijing to Kathmandu
24Lata Gautam, Agatha Grela, Jaya Satyal, and Sharad GajuryalSchool of Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK; School of Human and Social Sciences, University of West London, London, UK; Annapurna Neuro Hospital, Kathmandu, Nepal; Central Ayurveda Hospital, Kathmandu, NepalUnderstanding the Nature of Sexual Assault Cases in Nepal Through a Forensic Lens
28Mitra PariyarPostdoctoral Research Fellow (Leverhulme), Kingston University, London, UKDalit Conversion: Nepal’s Silent Enlightenment
29Mizuki WatanabeAssistant Professor, Faculty of International Tourism Management, Department of International Tourism Management, Tokyo University, Tokyo, JapanThe Social and Economic Life of Indian Muslim Migrations in Kathmandu
43Manoj Suji*, Nilima Rai,* and Sambriddhi Kharel*Research Associate, Social Science Baha; Board Member, Social Science Baha, Kathmandu, NepalRole of Actors and Institutions in Translating the 2030 Agenda for Gender Equality Commitments in National Discourse: A Case Study of Nepal
23Krishna Adhikari, Gopal Nepali, and David N. GellnerResearch Fellow, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; Samata Foundation, Lalitpur, Nepal; Professor of Social Anthropology, University of OxfordDalits in the School Curriculum in Nepal
30Nabin Maharjan and Richard C. MitchellPh.D. Candidate, Child and Youth Studies Department, Brock University, Ontario, Canada; Professor of Child and Youth Studies, Child and Youth Studies Department, Brock UniversityThe UNCRC and Global Childhoods: Transdisciplinary Reflections from Nepal
31Narendra Bahadur SaudProject Coordinator at Pro Public (NGO) and Faculty (Part-time) at White House Graduate School of Management, Kathmandu, NepalStorytelling and Realization:  An Organic Way to Collective Consciousness and Social Cohesion
32Nokmedemla LemturPhD Student, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Georg-August Universtität Göttingen, GermanyLabour in the High Himalayas: Recruitment and Agency of Mountaineering Expedition Labour on Nanga Parbat and Everest (1922 – 1939)
33Obindra B. Chand, Shophika Regmi, Abriti Arjyal, Chandani Kharel, and Sushil C. BaralQualitative Research Officer, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Research Coordinator, Research Manager, Managing Director, HERD International, Kathmandu, NepalUse of Data for Decision Making in Planning Process of Local Health System in Nepal: A Critical Note on Problems and Prospects
34Pearly WongPhD Student, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin, USADevelopment (In)Convenience: Agrarian Change and the Experience of Development in Dakshinkali, Nepal
36Prem Phyak and Bal Krishna SharmaAssistant Professor and Head, Department of English Education, Central Department of Education, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal; Assistant Professor, University of Idaho, Idaho, USAEntangled Relationship between Neoliberalism, English and Ethnolinguistic Activism in Nepal
37Pritisha ShresthaPhD Student, Rhetoric and Composition, Syracuse University, New York, USABold, Brahmin and Banned: Recovering History’s Unsung Rhetoric of a Revolutionary Woman of Nepal
35Pooja Chaudhary, Dogendra Tumsa*, Bipin Upadhyaya*, and Sanjaya MahatoAdvocate affiliated with the Nepal Bar Association, Kathmandu, Nepal; *Statistician, Social Science Baha, Kathmandu, Nepal; Independent ResearcherThe Untouchables: Prevalence of Sexual Relationship during Menstrual Period
40Ravindra Nyaupane, Mike Pretious, and Suvash KhadkaPhD Candidate, Swansea University, Wales, UK; Senior Lecturer, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, Scotland; University of South Wales, UKIssues in the Development of Community-Led Tourism in Nepal – the Example of Dhorpatan
41Richard BownasAssociate Professor, Political Science and International Affairs, University of Northern Colorado, Colorado, USAMeasuring Caste Discrimination in Urban and Rural Nepal: Some Empirical Approaches
38Rajeev RaiPhD Student, Department of International Relations, Sikkim UniversityOpening of Sikkim as a sbas yul[1]: Examining the Historical Narratives and Its Acceptance
44Samjhana ShakyaGraduate Assistant and PhD Candidate, Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Arkansas, USAPerspectives of Service Providers of Criminal Justice System on Help Seeking and Service Utilization Behaviors of Domestic Violence Survivors in Nepal
49Sara BertottiPhD Candidate in Law and Graduate Teaching Assistant, PG course International Protection of Human Rights, SOAS, University of London, London, UKTranslating Hybridity and Change: The 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord of Nepal
53Shak Bahadur BudhathokiEducation Coordinator, MercyCorps Nepal, Patan, NepalImproving Learning Outcome through School Improvement Plan (SIP)
54Shangrila JoshiThe Evergreen State College, Washington, USANeoliberalization, Climate Change, and Community Forestry in Nepal
55Shobhit ShakyaJunior Research Fellow and PhD Student, Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, EstoniaGuthis Abroad: Catering to the Social Needs Amongst the Newar Diaspora
50Saroj G.C.Course Facilitator, Masters in Philosophy, Faculty of Education and Social Sciences, Nepal Open University, Kathmandu, NepalNation Narrated in Government School Textbooks of Nepal
47Sanjaya Mahato, Rupesh Kumar Sah, and Pooja ChaudharyFinal Year PhD Student at GSSR, Warsaw, Poland; Under Secretary, Federal Parliament Secretariat, Kathmandu, Nepal; Advocate affiliated with the Nepal Bar Association, Kathmandu, NepalLegislators’ Engagement in Policy Making and Post-Legislative Scrutiny in Nepalese Parliament Since 1991
45Sanjay SharmaPhD Student, National University of Singapore, SingaporeIndustry Under the Open Sky: A Political Economy of Brick Kilns in Nepal
46Sanjay SharmaPhD Student, National University of Singapore, Singapore‘Invisible Counterparts’ of the ‘Warrior Gentlemen’: Tracing Out the Mobilities of Gurkha Women
57Sujit ShresthaPostdoctoral Fellow and Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Emory University, Georgia, USAIs Land to Male as Shelter is to Female? Gendering the Politics of Land and Shelter in Kathmandu’s Sukumbasi Settlements
51Sauharda Rai, Bonnie Nicole Kaiser, and Brandon A. KohrtPhD Student, Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington - Seattle, Washington, USA; Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of San Diego, California, USA; Charles and Sonia Akman Professor of Global Psychiatry, The George Washington University, Washington DC, USARecovery Narratives in Global Mental Health: Understanding the Benefits and Harms of Mental Health Service User’s Storytelling in Nepal
48Sapana Basnet Bista, Shaurabh Sharma, Rose Khatri, and Padam SimkhadaPhD Researcher, Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK; Inclusion Project Manager, Humanity and Inclusion International, Bangladesh; Programme Leader, Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores University; Professor of International Public Health, Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores UniversityIndiscriminating Earthquake Discriminatory Aid: Effectiveness of Blanket Approach to Aid Distribution to People with Disabilities
52SeSe MaMaster’s Student, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, Kyoto, JapanCentering Himalayan Stray Dogs: Reframing the Narrative of Non-Human Being Subjectivity and Agency
56Stefanie LotterSenior Teaching Fellow, Anthropology, SOAS, University of LondonCollecting Loss and Displaying Absence: Curating the Earthquake
42Sabin NinglekhuEarth Observatory of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, SingaporeHeritage and its Discontentments: Reclaiming Newar Urbanism
59Thomas RobertsonExecutive Director, U.S. Educational Foundation (Fulbright Nepal), Kathmandu, NepalChanging Kathmandu: Land, Water, and Public Space Through the Decades
60Toya Nath BhattaraiPhD Candidate, Kathmandu University, School of EducationControversy Over Medium of Education in Nepal: Some Milestones
58Tek Bahadur DongOneSeed Expeditions, Regional Director for Nepal and BhutanCultural Tourism: An Ethnographic Study of Home-Stay in Briddim, Rasuwa, Nepal
61Wolfram SchaffarAffiliated Researcher, Senior Research Fellow, International Institute for Asia Studies (IIAS) Leiden, The NetherlandsGross National Happiness, Law and Transformation: Comparative Aspects of Local Alternative Development Paradigms
63Yasuko FujikuraResearch Fellow of JSPS, Institute of Research in Humanities, Kyoto University, Kyoto, JapanDealing with Marginality: Gender and Caste in Western Nepal
62Yangchen Dolker Gurung and Khem ShreeshResearch Associate, Social Science Baha, Kathmandu, Nepal; Independent ResearcherSummer Farmers, Winter Traders: Transient Migrants of Mustang



Dignity Without Danger: Collaboratively Analysing Stigma and Taboos to Develop Innovative Strategies to Address Menstrual Exclusion in Nepal
Panel Convener: Sara Parker, Reader in Development Studies, Department of Sociology, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK; Madhusudan Subedi, Professor, Central Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal; and Stefanie Lotter SOAS, Senior Teaching Fellow and Research Fellow, University of London, London, UK
Proposed Chair: Professor Mira Mishra or Professor Bindu Pokhrel
Proposed Discussant: TBC
Panel Abstract: Women and girls in Nepal lack basic rights to a dignified menstruation. This means that they suffer inhumane and degrading treatment which includes abuse and violence (SDG3,5,6). Exclusionary practices, stigmas and taboos around menstruation, underpinned by traditional beliefs and cultural heritage practices, prevent women and girls from fully participating in economic and social life, impacting negatively on school attendance and employment (SDG4,8).  Existing research in Nepal demonstrates current programmes and initiatives ‘have not adequately redressed the misconceptions, taboos and harmful cultural and traditional practices surrounding menstrual health” (PSI 2017 p9).  

The British Academy Global Challenges Research (BA/GCRF) funded project ‘Dignity Without Danger’ aims to work with local partners, utilise creative ethnographic methods, provide training to gain a deeper insight into the diversity of beliefs and cultural practices that surround menstruation in Nepal. By exploring and connecting disparate stories, artefacts and narratives, we will deepen understanding enabling local stakeholders to challenge exclusionary practices. This will directly impact on current initiatives to enable women and girls accessing their rights to reproductive health, dignity and enhance sustainable human development (SDG3.7, 17).

This panel draws together the three main sections of the research project which began in Sept 2018, the academic ‘research team’, the field researchers and the partners to provide a space to critically reflect not only on the research findings but also of the research process.

Presenters: Madhusudan Subedi, Sara Parker, B. K. Shrestha, NGO partners, and Laxmi Dhital
Affiliations: Professor, Central Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal; Reader in Development Studies, Department of Sociology, Liverpool John Moores University, UK; Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Lalitpur, Nepal

Paper Abstract: In order to reduce the suffering, discrimination and violence against menstruating women and girls, and to promote partnership for sustainable human development, we have identified a need to work with local actors and communities. Previous research highlighted the need for a multi-sector, multi-agency, evidence based research approach in order to uncover and challenge discriminatory practices and produce policy and practical recommendations (Standing & Parker 2018). Research needs to be more collaborative and participatory in nature if it is to realise its full potential but what do we mean by this? A diverse range of terms are found within participatory approaches to research such as Participatory Research (PR), Action Research (AR), Participatory Action Research (PAR), Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) and Collaborative Research (CR) to name a few.

The project utilises a collaborative action research paradigm (Ozerdem & Bowd 2016, Beebejaun et al 2014)) and inductive qualitative creative ethnographic methods to deliver a study that will engage local populations (across ages, castes and genders) that capture local voices, relate to oral history and text based sources as well as explore experiences and cultural norms (stigmas, taboos and exclusionary practices). This evidence based research will inform policies and practices.

In this BA/GCRF funded project we are working with academics, NGO partners and researchers working in the field of menstrual health on the ground, to build research capacity in Nepal, and co-design the research process by embedding training into the plan of action. Partners were selected to represent the 3 key sustainable development goals connected with menstruation namely health (SD3), education (SDG 4), water and sanitation (SDG 7) with all having a strong focus on gender (SDG 5). This will strengthen links between policy makers, practitioners and researchers to develop more effective sustainable partnerships (SDG17) and facilitate strong pathways to impact. Through conducting collaborative action research we will unravel untold, often secret, forms of intangible heritage surrounding menstruation, held within diverse practices and traditional belief systems. Navigating discursive fields will enable us and our partners to ultimately promote dignified periods for menstruating women and girls in Nepal with potential for application in other cultures who practice menstrual exclusion.

This paper reflects on how these partners were engaged in a meaningful ‘genuine’ manner in the research process and how we addressed one of the main limitations of collaborative participatory research which is engaging participants in all stages of the research process including research design, data analysis and dissemination (Parker 2005). The paper will draw on theories of participatory development and collaborative action research and make recommendations for others engaged in this type of collaborative research.

Presenters: Stefanie Lotter, Rajya Gurung*, and Lina Baniya*
Affiliations: Senior Teaching Fellow and Research Fellow, SOAS, University of London, UK; *Senior Researchers, Dignity Without Danger, Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal

Paper Abstract: Much media coverage and many NGOs focus on the traditional but now illegal Chhaupadi practice (seclusion in menstruation huts, unfit for human occupation), which deems menstruating women not only as ‘impure’, and polluting, but also banishes menstruating women temporarily from their home (Crawford et at 2014, PSI 2017, Standing and Parker 2018) Focusing on the practice of Chhaupadi however conceptually belittles the common challenges women face outside this extreme practice in the geographical region of Humla/Jumla (Parker & Standing 2019). Depending on religion, ethnicity, caste and geography; menstruating women and girls are variously prohibited from cooking, eating with family, looking in mirrors, visiting temples, going to school or work, farming activity and physical contact with men.

A key aim of this research is to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities, practices and concepts that act as and barriers preventing change within communities.  The research explores also solutions negotiated within the field of practice to enable women and girls to take up the right to have a dignified period, sexual and reproductive rights, and their human right to be free from discrimination (SDG 3,5).

In order to explore the width of cultural practices, detailed ethnographic research has been conducted over a 5 month period between Feb and June 2019 by 6 researchers working on two teams ‘West ‘ and ‘East’ who between them have visited all 7 provinces. By immersing themselves in the field and working with key partners on the ground, a rich set of data has been generated and co-analysed in order to identify the complexities of menstruation knowledge beliefs and practices in Nepal.

This paper will reflect on the findings from the first two months of the project and provide the initial insights from the two research teams drawing out the similarities and differences between geographical regions and different ethnic groups within Nepal to establish key themes of further enquiries. This deeper understanding of the diverse menstrual practices and their underlying concepts will enable us to work with our partners to eventually support the development of more effective strategies to address stigma and taboos surrounding menstruation.

Presenters: Sara Parker (and the research team)
Affiliations: Liverpool John Moores University

Paper Abstract: There is a growing body of literature advocating researchers become more critically reflexive in the research process especially when the research process is qualitative, or action-oriented, in nature (Baxter & Eyles 1999, Davies 1999, England 1994, Greenwood 2003, Pain 2003, Pollner & Emerson 2001, Punch 1994, Rose 1997,).  “Reflexivity can simply be defined as viewing the self and data in a critical self-detached manner” (Grbich 2004: 71).  But the question is how to do this in practice especially when working in a research team.

Denzin and Lincoln (1994: 3) argue that “research is an interactive process shaped by his or her personal history, biography, gender, social class, race and ethnicity, and those of the people in the setting”.  Fieldwork is a dialogical process that is structured by both researchers and participants and requires greater reflection by the researcher on these dynamics in order to promote more inclusive methods that are sensitive to the power relations embedded within fieldwork (England 1994).  Whilst there have been calls for researchers to reflect more critically on the role of the ‘gate keepers’, ‘key informants’ ‘participants’ and ‘friends’ consulted along the way (Hammersley & Atkinson 1995) there has been little attention to including the reflections of the researchers and gatekeepers on their role and impact on the research process. In order to capture the experiences and enable critical reflections to be made the researchers have kept diaries to provide a record of their experiences of the research process.

Research in the field of development is renowned for being inherently complex and rigour is gained through systematic note keeping and recording of information and through feeding the information back into the field for triangulation (Gorard & Taylor 2004, Kincheloe & Berry 2004, Mellor 2001, Zeni 1998).  During this project academics and researchers have been requested to keep reflexive field diaries to document conversations, experiences, observations and feelings as part of the research process. This data contributes to the reflective process of the research team and acknowledges the researcher’s subjective positionality on the data collected. Extracts from the diaries and a reflective workbook was used to identity issues which may emerge from research process and also to reflect on the partner’s involvement in supporting the research process. An analysis of these diaries provide the basis of this paper to capture the opportunities and challenges of conducting field work in research teams and to add to the discourse on reflexivity and immersing oneself in the ‘field’. The paper will share the key insights gained and make recommendations for future research.


From Epicentre to Aftermath: Ethnographic and Historical Views of Post-Earthquake Nepal (double panel)
Panel Convener: Jeevan Baniya, Assistant Director, Social Science Baha
Panel Abstract: This double panel presents six papers emerging from two multi-year transdisciplinary international research projects: Expertise, Labour and Mobility in Nepal’s Post-Conflict, Post-Disaster Reconstruction (based at University of British Columbia with funding from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) and After the Earth’s Violent Sway: The Tangible and Intangible Legacies of a Natural Disaster (based at SOAS University of London with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council).

Combining historical and ethnographic perspectives, panelists examine the 2015 earthquake aftermath in terms of reconstruction dynamics and political developments while also examining historical contexts and questions of causation. Bina Limbu considers the recent trend of building one-room houses to question the relationship between post-disaster reconstruction and Nepali understandings of family, domestic space, and ownership, pointing out how relief efforts often problematically assume the equivalence of house and property with home and belonging. Manoj Suji examine how reconstruction dynamics tend to fold disaster-affected households into both greater exposure to cash-based economies, and to a greater “financialization” of some aspects of their lives, social relations, and subjectivities. Michael Hutt considers what role the 2015 quakes had in breaking the seven-year constitutional deadlock and how the disaster formed the backdrop for approval of a relatively conservative, status-quo federal structure. Mark Liechty analyzes the aftermaths of previous Nepal earthquakes to rethink understandings of disaster causation by moving away from historicist models to a perspective of contingent possibility within the radically new “epistemological field” opened up in the disaster aftermath. John Whelpton examines how earthquakes from 1934 onward shaped popular consciousness of vulnerability and preparedness and to what extent earlier disasters prompted implementation of preventive measures—from astrological to architectural. And finally, Jeevan Baniya analyzes post-quake op-ed articles from five major Nepali dailies to trace emerging discourses related to relief, recovery and reconstruction.

Panel 2A

Proposed Chair: Ramjee Parajulee, Capilano University
Proposed Discussant: Stefanie Lotter, SOAS, University of London

Paper 1: Reconstruction and the Rise of One-roomed Houses in Rural Nepal
Presenter: Bina Limbu
Affiliation: Research Associate, Social Science Baha, Kathmandu, Nepal
Paper Abstract: In the four years after the 2015 earthquake, some considerable progress has been seen in the private housing reconstruction. Starting with the establishment of NRA followed by Reconstruction Act 2072 and execution of Rural Housing and Reconstruction Program (RHRP), various reconstruction policies and provisions most notably, the private housing grant disbursement guidelines have been introduced and implemented with the objective to facilitate ‘earthquake resilient houses’. Out of thousands of affected families or ‘beneficiaries’, several families have rebuilt ‘one-roomed house’ adopting one of the government-prescribed designs. Although there might be multiple reasons behind adoption of the one-roomed houses, dissenting voices and dissatisfactions have been expressed against such house questing usefulness and appropriateness of the house as well as the whole concepts of ‘owner-driven reconstruction’ and ‘building back better’.
In this paper, based on several months of ethnographic work in two sites of Dhading and Sindhupalchowk districts of Nepal during 2018 and 2019, we try to address two major questions in regards to the one-roomed house: a) What are the key factors that have led some earthquake affected families or beneficiaries build a one-roomed house? And; b) How do the affected families perceive rebuilding of one roomed-house and, why?

Paper 2: Earthquakes and Cashflows: Disaster Financialization and the Microdynamics of Disaster Capitalism in Nepal
Presenters: Manoj Suji1 (on behalf of co-Presenters Philippe Le Billon2 & Dinesh Paudel3)
Affiliations: 1Research Associate, Social Science Baha; 2Professor, Department of Geography & Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Canada; 3Assistant Professor, Department of Sustainable Development, Appalachian State University, USA
Paper Abstract: The literature on the political economy of post-disaster reconstruction tends to contrast two arguments. One is that the victims of disaster are dispossessed as a result of ‘disaster capitalism’ processes, and the other is that people benefit from greater opportunities and improve their lives as a result of the post-disaster reconstruction boom and ‘building back better’. This paper engages with these two contrasting perspectives and seeks to provide a more nuanced account through a case study of post-earthquake reconstruction in Nepal in three locations (Bhaktapur, Dhading and Sindhupalchok). We introduce the concept of ‘disaster financialization’ to capture not only the integration of disaster-affected households into a ‘cash-based’ reconstruction economy, but also a ‘financialization’ of some aspects of their lives, social relations, and subjectivities. Contrasting experiences across three different reconstruction areas, we suggest that highlight that not all categories of households and aspects of live have been financialized. Processes of financialization reflect a diversity of factors, including local economic contexts, ousehold composition, and the behaviour of financial institutions such as banks and cooperatives.

Paper 3: Accelerating a Status Quo? The 2015 Earthquakes and Nepal’s New Constitution
Presenter: Michael Hutt
Affiliation: SOAS, University of London
Paper Abstract: Two national-level institutional developments occurred within months of the earthquakes that struck Nepal in April and May 2015. These were: (a) the drafting and promulgation of a new national constitution; and (b) the establishment of a National Reconstruction Presenterity (NRA). The urgency felt by the leaders of Nepal’s three largest parties to reach a constitutional settlement was plainly apparent. They signed a Sixteen-Point Agreement on the basic principles of the new constitution on 8 June, just 45 days after the Gorkha earthquake, and the constitution was promulgated on 20 September 2015. Although a Constituent Assembly had been elected in April 2008 with the task of producing a new constitution within two years, Nepal’s government and state institutions had been functioning under an Interim Constitution since January 2007. Thus, a constitution that had been promised but not delivered for over seven years was eventually completed and promulgated within a timeframe of just a little over 100 days.

In contrast to this, the Bill to establish the NRA was not passed in parliament until 16 December 2015 and no staff (other than its CEO) were appointed to it until January 2016. When these developments are viewed in outline—from a distance, as it were—there would seem to be a direct causal relationship between the earthquake of 25 April 2015 and the prioritisation and ‘fast-tracking’ of what was in certain respects a relatively conservative constitution. As such, this Nepali case would appear to be a classic example of the reinstatement of an ‘accelerated status quo’, described by Pelling and Dill (2010) as one of the possible political outcomes of a natural disaster.

Drawing upon conversations and interviews conducted in Nepal over the winter of 2017-18 and a close reading of media discourse and political analysis from 2015, this paper will examine and assess the extent of this supposed causality in some detail. Given that the most radical change ushered in by the new constitution is the introduction of a federal structure, particular attention will be paid to the evolution of the debate on this key issue.

Panel 02B

Proposed Chair: Nabin Rawal, Central Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
Proposed Discussant: Dinesh Paudel, Appalachian State University

Presenter: Mark Liechty
Affiliation: University of Illinois
Paper Abstract: One of the principle challenges of post-disaster analysis is attributing causation: What causes a disaster’s aftermath? Heeding Watts’ (1983) warning against crudely attributing causation to the disaster itself, scholars have increasingly turned toward historical approaches that link outcomes to pre-disaster sociopolitical dynamics. Disasters lead to “critical junctures” and “tipping points” that “trigger” events unfolding in the disaster’s wake (e.g., Pelling and Dill 2010). In this paper I argue that the “critical junctures” paradigm shares limitations with “path dependency” theory from which it derives (David 2000), namely a tendency toward historicism—a functionalist teleology better able to explain continuity than change (Kay 2005:553). As an alternative, I use Foucault’s understanding of “conditions of possibility” (1970:xxii, cf. Popper 1957) as a way of rethinking agency/causation away from individual subjects, events, or even historical conditions toward , instead, the new, radically-destabilized “epistemological field” emerging in the disaster’s aftermath. In this new epistemological field earlier forms of subjectivity (social organization), knowledge (history), and structure (power) still exist but now in profoundly transformed and contingent material and epistemological “modalities of order” in which no outcomes are “locked in” and no “tipping points” lead to inevitable outcomes. This paper examines a series of devastating earthquakes in Nepal (1934, 1988, 2015) to consider how post-disaster “epistemological fields” open up new “conditions of possibility” within which new ideas, actions, and outcomes become thinkable and possible in ways that pre-disaster historical conditions could not have predicted.

Presenter: John Whelpton
Affiliation: Chinese University of Hong Kong
Paper Abstract: Following the great earthquake of 12 January 1934, awareness of the continuing threat was preserved through the frequent occurrence of lesser tremors and the memories of earthquake survivors, by officially-provided advice, starting with the recommendations of John Auden, published in Nepali translation in the Gorkhapatra in July 1934 and included in Brahma Shamsher’s Nepalko Mahabhukampa and continuing with a warning in 1941 to stay outdoors on 25 April, when a similar conjunction of planets to that of 1934 would occur. Although there were few casualties in the Kathmandu Valley, the earthquakes of 1980, 1988 and 2011, which over the whole country killed 125, 721 and 11 people respectively, provided more vivid reminders of the danger. The 1988 event, as well as prompting political recriminations that foreshadowed on a much smaller-scale those of 2015, led to increased official attention and to the establishment of the National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) which was at the forefront of efforts to retrofit existing buildings and promote better safety standards for new ones. In the 1990s warnings of the potential for catastrophic casualties in the increasingly densely populated Valley were also frequently voiced in the expanding private press and in 1999 an annual Earthquake Safety Day was instituted on the anniversary of the 1934 quake. Some of Nepal’s efforts were hailed as setting a model for South Asia as a whole and the earthquake of 2015 showed the resilience of retrofitted school buildings and the efficacy of the `Drop, cover and hold on’ advice when actually followed. However 2015 also showed that National Building Code guidelines had not been properly followed and that the most of the population had not been aware of official advice on how to protect themselves.

Presenter: Jeevan Baniya, Anisha Bhattarai & Sita Nepali
Affiliation: Social Science Baha
Paper Abstract: Since the immediate aftermath of 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, Nepali mass media including newspaper editorials and op-eds have extensively covered various aspects of the earthquakes such as impacts, rescue, relief, recovery and reconstruction. Op-eds, as argued, have the potential to shape public opinion (Porpora and Nikolaev, 2008), to trigger public debate on some agenda (Alexander, 2004, Sommer and Maycroft, 2008, Rosenfeld, 2000) and to persuade elites. Contrastingly, some also point to their ineffectiveness in terms of effecting any substantive change in policy and mindsets of elites due to their elite authorship and focus on complex policy topics (Ciofalo and Traveso, 1994; Zaller, 1992). This paper, by no means, intends to evaluate or examine any impacts or effects of the op-eds on changes in policies, attitudes and perceptions. Instead, this article, based on analysis of about a total of 85 op-ed articles published in the five major national daily newspapers of Nepal (Annapurna Post, Gorkhapatra, Kantipur, The Kathmandu Post, Naya Patrika and Nagarik), seeks to analyse the discourses related to relief, recovery and reconstruction in the post-2015 Gorkha Earthquake.
Discussant: Dinesh Paudel, Appalachian State University

Poster Submissions

Understanding and Analysing Expenditure Patterns of Remittance Receiving Families of Dhading, Nepal

Presenter: Surendra Basnet
Affiliation: PhD Student, Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores University

Abstract: Globally, remittance flows to low and middle income countries (LMICs) are estimated to be a total of US$ 528 billion in 2018, also all-time higher increases of 8.5 percent over the past year, in which the officially-recorded remittance receipt developing countries are mostly from Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa. Remittance play a significant role in the overall development and human welfare in the recipient countries.

Currently, Nepal is one of the highest remittance-receiving country in the world in terms of total percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that swelled from 1.5 percent of GDP in 1993 to 30.1 percent in 2018 that accounts US$ 6.92 billion. Many studies confirm that remittances are essential in the battle against poverty, lifting millions of families out of deprivation or bare subsistence. But at the same time, economic research has failed to find that remittances make a significant contribution to a country’s economic growth. Several studies on remittance and expenditure patterns in lower income nations concluded most of the remittance incomes are used for household consumption rather than investment. Similarly, in context of Nepal, besides daily consumption expenses most of the Remittance Receiving Households (RRHs) allocated it for repaying loans, savings followed by renovating house, purchase of asset and education afterwards.

Overall objective of this paper is to understand and analyse the patterns of expenditures of RRHs to ensure and ascertain where the remit monies are spending on. Previous studies on patterns of expenditures and remittances gathered their data and information retrospectively where recall bias is unavoidable and overall literatures suggested closer study of the use or benefit of remittance in household and community level.

This study was conducted in Dhading, Nepal using mixed methods approach based on a pragmatic research philosophy gathering prospective data to understand and analyse the expenditure patterns of RRHs. Quantitative data has been collected through household survey questionnaire and diary recording. The qualitative data will be collected through in depth interviews.

The first phase study (survey) is already completed, demographic and economic information has been collected through survey questionnaire from the sample of 322 households (HHs). Second phase is one-year cross sectional study, i.e. recording incomes and expenses information in the given diaries (sample n = 322 HHs) and it is ongoing. The expenditures patterns will be established through 1-year diary records. The second phase study, once completed will identified the expenditures behaviour of RRHs and provided useful insights. The paper will be based on the findings of first phase study. Demographic and economic profiles of migrants’ families that has been generated and analysed using SPSS software will be presented in this conference. The presentation will also highlight the plan for second phase and third phase of this study which will explore the impacts of remittance upon livelihood and investment through interviews.

Findings of the study informs and recommends government, policy maker, society and community level to promote migration and remittance exploring effective uses of remittance in livelihood as well in investments.

Retaining and Motivating Skilled Birth Attendants (SBA) in Rural Nepal

Presenters: Pasang Tamang*, Prakash Shahi** and Karina Kielmann***
Affiliations: *PhD Researcher, Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, UK; **Lecturer, Asian college of Health Sciences, Satdobato, Nepal; ***Reader in the Institute for Global Health and Development, Queen Margaret University, UK 

Abstract: The number of deliveries with skilled birth attendance in Nepal is low. There is a severe shortage of skilled births attendants in rural areas of Nepal. This study aims to explore the factors contributing to retention and motivation of skilled births attendants to work in rural areas of Nepal. The study was descriptive cross-sectional used a qualitative methodology. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with skilled births attendants with prior experience of working in rural areas currently working in public health institutions of Kathmandu, Nepal. The interviews were conducted by telephone, translated, and transcribed. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data manually.

The skilled births attendants had a great concern for security to work in rural areas. They also reported the lack of equipment and supplies, poor means of communication and transportation, and insecurity as major factors negatively influencing their motivation to work in rural areas. In terms of their preferences for working in urban areas, married skilled births attendants preferred to work in urban areas as they were more concerned about their partners’ jobs and children’s education while younger skilled births attendants were mainly concerned about their career.

The skilled births attendants can be motivated to work and retain in the rural area by a holistic approach. In this study, security was identified as the major challenge for skilled births attendants to work in rural areas of Nepal. Besides these, other factors such as equipped health facility and suitable places for living combined with financial incentives can attract and retain skilled births attendants in rural areas.

Subscribe for news & updates


The Conference is brought in association with the following organisations
Scroll Up