The Politics of the Road: Ethnography of Charikot-Singati-Lamabager Road of Dolakha, Central Nepal
This paper presents an ethnographic study of the Charikot-Singati-Lamabagar road of Central Nepal. Ethnographic details from the road offer insights into other domains such as government policies and practices, people’s participation in road development and its sociality. This paper engages the ethnographic method to explore the actors and institutions engaged in the politics of roads, place-specific road knowledges and the variability of road-society articulations. The paper is structured around two key research provocations. First, it explores the genesis of the Charikot-Singati-Lamabagar road including the road imaginaries that have shaped its development and contemporary geographies. Second, it addresses the multi-faceted interrelationship between the road and hydropower development projects. Bringing ethnographic insights to bear on these interrelated questions, the paper illustrates how changing labor relations associated with road development, road alignment politics, and road building practices are mediated by the materiality and imaginative dynamics of roads—and play a significant role in the mundane space of everyday life. I argue that beyond the technology of road infrastructure, we need to situate studies of road development in the multiple exigencies and power relations of everyday life at the grassroots level – the road is a political site.