Op-ed: Reconstruction Conundrums

Click here to read the whole article. Published on February 19, 2019.

Four partnership members Bina Limbu, Jeevan Baniya, Manoj Suji, and Sara Shneiderman have published an op-ed in the Kathmandu Post entitled “Reconstruction Conundrums”. In this op-ed, the collaborative research partners point out the fallacy in the term ‘fake victims’ that has been defined and used by the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) and other organizations. The ethnographic research conducted by the partnership since March 2017 suggests a different picture.

Partners present at SOAS conference in London & Dr. Sara Shneiderman to give keynote address

Partnership members from our Canada and Nepal teams will be giving presentations during the SOAS (South Asia Institute) conference, “Epicentre to Aftermath: Political, Social and Cultural Impacts of Earthquakes in South Asia“, being held in London from January 11th-12th, 2019.

Team members, Jeevan Baniya (Social Science Baha), Omer Aijazi (University of Toronto, Canada), and Sara Shneiderman (University of British Columbia, Canada) will be giving presentations regarding post-earthquake humanitarian responses, ownership and kinship in relation to the ‘home’, socio-political impacts of reconstruction, and disasters as betrayal. For a detailed list, please see below.

The first day of the conference on January 11th will conclude with a keynote address given Dr. Sara Shneiderman (Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Anthropology and the Institute of Asian Research at UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs). Dr. Shneiderman’s presentation, “Restructuring Life: political, social, and material transformation in post-conflict, post-disaster Nepal“, will draw from 20 years of experience in the Dolakha district of Nepal to discuss transformation in the aftermath of natural disaster and political upheaval.

To find more information on the conference and keynote address, please visit the conference webpage here.

List of Paper Presentations:

Omer Aijazi (University of Toronto): Disasters as Betrayal: the life that Niaz evokes.

Jeevan Baniya (Social Science Baha): Socio-political impacts of reconstruction post-earthquake Nepal: A case study of Majhi community in Sindhupalchowk. 

Jeevan Baniya & Amrita Gurung: I/NGOs in humanitarian responses post-earthquake 2015: Empirical evidence from Gorkha, Sindhupalchowk and Southern Lalitpur.

Sara Shneiderman (University of British Columbia, Canada), Jeevan Baniya (Social Science Baha, Nepal), Bina Limbu (Social Science Baha, Nepal), Nabin Rawal (Tribhuvan University, Nepal), Prakash Chandra Subedi (Social Science Baha, Nepal), Manoj Suji (Social Science Baha, Nepal), Cameron Warner (Aarhus University, Denmark): Householder, Homeowner, or Landowner? Rethinking Ownership and Kinship through Nepal’s Reconstruction Process.




Nepal Workshop Report Published in HIMALAYA

The workshop report from the first partnership team workshop held at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver in September 2017 has now been published. The report presents an overview of the issues raised during the presentations by team members from Canada, Denmark, US, and Nepal.

A full version of the report can be found online at HIMALAYA Journal (open-access) here.

Dr. Shneiderman presents context, objectives, and significance of ELMNR partnership project

Principal Investigator and Wall Scholar Dr. Sara Shneiderman (UBC) recently presented on the background of Nepal’s 2015 post-earthquake reconstruction and this (ELMNR) multidisciplinary partnership’s context and objectives. She notes the impacts and significances of the wide-ranging research extends well beyond the borders of Nepal to have implications across the world, including countries like Canada.

The presentation was recorded as part of The Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies’ Wall Scholar Speaker Series and is available to view online here.


Partnership to receive additional grant

The partnership team has recently been awarded a SSHRC Explore Grant – Faculty of Arts Research from the University of British Columbia.

The additional funds will be used to fund the project entitled ‘Nepal’s Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Outcomes: A Quantitative Survey’ in conjunction with the original SSHRC Partnership Development grant: ‘Expertise, Labour and Mobility in Nepal’s Post-Conflict, Post-Disaster Reconstruction’.

Led by Dr. Ratna Shrestha (UBC Vancouver’s School of Economics), Dr. Jeevan Baniya (Social Science Baha), with support from Sampada KC (University of Warwick, Economics), this work will entail the hiring of additional researchers under the auspices of Social Science Baha to implement a quantitative survey during the second phase of fieldwork currently underway. The findings will be used in conjunction with the qualitative field methods to enhance understandings of Nepal’s ongoing reconstruction in earthquake-affected areas.

New publication by partnership members

Two of the SSHRC PDG partnership members, Philippe Le Billon (Co-PI) and Dinesh Paudel (Collaborator), have recently published an article titled ‘Geo-Logics of Power: Disaster Capitalism, Himalayan Materialities, and the Geopolitical Economy of Reconstruction in Post-Earthquake Nepal‘. The article proposes the concept of ‘geo-logics of power’ as a way to draw attention to the trans-Himalayan discourses, practices, and materialities shaping reconstruction in post-earthquake Nepal.


Partnership members visit two field sites

Partnerships members in front of the National Art Museum in Bhaktapur.

Following the workshop and conference events, partnership members from Canada, Denmark, and Nepal visited two of the research field sites: Bhaktapur municipality in the Kathmandu Valley, and Kartike in Sindhupalchowk district. The communities in both regions experienced devastating impacts from the 2015 earthquakes and continue to confront hazards such as, landslides, flooding, unstable road conditions, and uneven access to labour and capital. Partnership members had the opportunity to learn about reconstruction experiences in both locales, and develop a better understanding of how large-scale disasters play a role in the way diverse individuals and communities engage with the Nepali state, develop relationships with local and foreign I/NGOs, and reconstruct their social and cultural practices.


Research Seminar Series held at SSB

Four partnership members presented at a series of research seminars that were hosted by Social Science Baha at their Kathmandu library in July and August 2018. Each seminar featured one partnership member presenting about an aspect of their work relevant to the project themes. Each presenter circulated an existing or upcoming publication in advance, and was allotted 90 minutes for their presentation and Q&A. The diverse audience was comprised of Social Science Baha researchers, Canadian students, and other scholars and students from Nepali institutions such as Tribhuvan University, leading to lively and productive seminars.

Listed below are the titles and presenters for each seminar:

Religiosity, Infrastructure, and Kinship after the 2015 Earthquakes (Friday, July 13)

Sara Shneiderman, Associate Professor, Anthropology and School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia

Historicizing social science research: Road building in Nepal as regimes of territorialisation (Wednesday, July 18)

Katharine Rankin, Professor, Geography, University of Toronto

Causes of deaths and injuries in the 2015 earthquake (Friday, August 3)

Bishnu Pandey,  Faculty, School of Construction and the Environment, British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT)

Disasters as Betrayal (Affective and Phenomenological Orientations of Disaster Research) (Sunday, August 5)

Omer Aijazi, Sessional Lecturer and PhD Candidate, Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia

Presentations at the Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal & The Himalaya


More than ten members of the partnership presented in a double panel at the Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal & The Himalaya held at the Shanker Hotel between July 25th and 27th, while the majority of other partnership members were in attendance.  Their presentations, drawn from their individual ongoing work related to partnership research themes, sparked lively discussion among the diverse attendees at the conference, serving as an invaluable exchange of ideas for partnership members and a chance to publicize the partnership to a broader scholarly community in Nepal, receive feedback and field questions.


The two consecutive panels were entitled “Re/Construction: Expertise, Politics, and Materiality in Nepal’s Ongoing Transformation (A and B)” and included Sara Shneiderman, Dan Hirslund, Bishnu Pandey, Philippe Le Billon, Dinesh Paudel, Omer Aijazi, Jeevan Baniya, and Social Science Baha research associate Amrita Gurung. A third panel featured scholars from our partnership speaking about work on a related project, “Infrastructures of Democracy: Road Building as Everyday Practice in Nepal’s Agrarian Districts”, including its Principal Investigator, Katharine Rankin (who is a co-investigator on our grant) who presented a paper with Pushpa Hamal and Elsie Lewison, and Co-Investigator Sara Shneiderman (who is Principal Investigator on our grant) as discussant. The full list of panels and sessions can be viewed here.


Additionally, the SOAS-based project “After the Earth’s Violent Sway: The Tangible and Intangible Legacies of Earthquakes in Nepal” presented their ongoing research in a panel of the same name. Presenters included Michael Hutt, Stefanie Lotter, and John Whelpton, who spoke on literary, heritage, and historical dynamics of the 2015 and 1934 earthquakes in Nepal. Dialogue between the scholars from these related projects were especially fruitful, providing platforms to further develop each project’s themes, and exploring potential topics for future collaboration.


Second Workshop Held in Kathmandu

Partnership members met in Kathmandu on July 23-24, 2018, to formally kick off the second year of the partnership grant with a two-day workshop. Participants read and responded to the first preliminary research report prepared by the research team at Social Science Baha based on their fieldwork in three diverse earthquake-affected districts: Bhaktapur, Sindhupalchok, and Dhading. Discussions around this original empirical research enabled participants to identify several emerging themes and make significant progress towards planning the second round of field research, to take place in late 2018 and early 2019.

In addition, a half-day workshop was held with the related project “After the Earth’s Violent Sway: tangible and intangible legacies of a natural disaster” led by Professor Michael Hutt from SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) at the University of London. Members of both teams presented research and findings as well as discussed areas of future potential collaboration including sharing research materials in a combined database hosted by the SOAS library.

February 5, 2018