The Geopolitics of Post-Earthquake Reconstruction in Nepal
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.