Several research team members presented at the 7th Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal and the Himalaya, 24-26 July 2019, as members of the panel “From Epicentre to Aftermath: Ethnographic and Historical Views of Post-Earthquake Nepal”. This joint panel was organized in cooperation with the project “After the Earth’s Violent Sway: the tangible and intangible legacies of a natural disaster” (SWAY), based at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Findings from both projects stimulated lively discussion amongst conference attendees.
Research team member Bina Limbu discussed “… the rise of the one-roomed houses” and the ways that Nepal’s top-down reconstruction policies resulted in structures produced to meet housing grant guidelines, rather than the needs of earthquake-affected families.
Another team member Manoj Suji demonstrated, through a paper co-authored with Philippe Le Billon and Dinesh Paudel, the social impacts of disaster financialization that continue to be felt in Nepal – transforming cultural activities and increasing vulnerability for large swaths of the population through processes of dispossession, as householders bore the brunt of the costs and risks of reconstruction.
Jeevan Baniya, Anisha Bhattarai, and Sita Nepali explored discourses in Nepali newspaper od-ed pieces following the 2015 earthquakes and their role in creating ‘preferred’ viewpoints for understanding and critiquing the response and reconstruction.
Members of the SWAY team presented topics in dialogue with those above – from Prof. Michael Hutt’s analysis of the effects of disaster on Nepalese politics to Prof. Mark Liechty’s critical re-consideration of ‘causality’ to John Whelpton’s comparative look at past earthquakes in Nepali consciousness. These presentations often contextualized Nepal’s current post-earthquake reconstruction with the country’s experience of major earthquakes in 1934 and 1988, adding historical depth to the findings from contemporary research.