Expertise, Labour and Mobility in Nepal’s Post-conflict, Post-disaster Reconstruction
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.