SASNET/UPF lecture on local democracy in Nepal
Nepal is at a turning point as it emerges from violent conflict (1996-2006) to write a new constitution (2008-present) and establish a federated Republic. Everywhere, people from all different backgrounds insist that democracy cannot arrive without equality, and they referred to gender, caste, ethnic equality and opportunities for employment as the domains requiring particular reform. In the present context there are real struggles for authority as this ‘new’ consciousness intersects with older and new forms of patronage. These issues are placed within the wider context of political change in Nepal, emphasizing the post-2006 period but linking it to changes that stem back as far as 1951. There are three main themes addressed in this talk: i.) What constitutes ‘democratic practice’ in the context of highly uneven power relations? ii.) How does the culture of ‘kuraa milaaune’, or ‘compromise’ in Nepal produce very particular forms of ‘democracy’? And iii.) What contexts are most important for changing how people understand democracy? While not surprising for long-term observers in Nepal, our findings show how donor investment intersects with local power dynamics. Resource governance projects become a site of competition for authority, opportunities for patronage and personal gain, as well as sites of infrastructure development and community building.
From 1 October 2012, Andrea Nightingale works at the Human Ecology section at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg. Before that she has been affiliated to the Dept. of Geography at University of Zurich, Switzerland, and recently been Lecturer in Environmental Geography at University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Dr. Nightingale has been doing research work in Nepal for 25 years. Mostly she has been working on community forestry and social equity (gender, caste, class in particular), but more recently she has also been studying the political transition in Nepal.