Earthquakes and Cashflows: Households and Disaster Financialization in Post- earthquake Nepal
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, household composition, and the behaviour of financial institutions such as banks and cooperatives.