New Publication in Collaborative Anthropologies

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new article in Collaborative Anthropologies titled “The Ethnography of Collaboration: Navigating Power Relationships in Joint Research” by project participants: Omer Aijazi, Emily Amburgey, Bina Limbu, Manoj Suji, James Binks, Courtney Balaz-Munn, Katharine Rankin and Sara Shneiderman.

Abstract: We came together to write a paper on the devaluation of field researcher labor as an entry point into the broader domain of research ethics to unpack what collaboration may mean in settings of incommensurable inequality. These motivations were grounded in the materialities of our involvement within an international research project focused on post- earthquake reconstruction processes in Nepal since 2015. However, since we started writing this piece, some of us felt that the paper did not adequately reflect their experiences, others felt it put them in the hot seat too quickly, and some thought that it mimicked the faulty modes of collaboration we wanted to unsettle in the first place. Realizing the power dynamics within our own writing collective, we stepped away from a centralized narrative to make room for our diverse, sometimes complementary, sometimes contradictory experiences. The paper is a bricolage of reflections that focus on issues such as the division of labor, coauthorship, and community engagement. We use these reflections as a way to think critically about the current juncture of transnational, collaborative research and propose a series of open- ended reflections that prompt the problematization of the inequities, tensions, and emotional labor inherent in collaborative work.

Click here to access the article. Click here for full citation details.

New Photo Collection

We are pleased to announce that our fieldwork photo collection of 216 images has now been published by UBC cIRcle, an open-access digital repository for research and teaching materials. The full collection can be viewed here.

This collection is a compilation of images taken by members of the Social Science Baha research team located in Kathmandu, Nepal. The pictures were taken while conducting fieldwork between 2018-2019. The images portray community members’ experiences following the earthquakes of 2015 in three regions of Nepal: Bhaktapur, Kathmandu Valley; Borang, Dhading; Kartike, Sindhupalchowk.

A selection of photos can be found on our Photo Collection page here.


National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) Conference Presentation

On August 25th, 2020, Dr. Sara Shneiderman (Associate Professor in Anthropology and School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at UBC) presented a co-authored paper stemming from our SSHRC Partnership Development Grant at the web-based ‘National Symposium on Nepal’s Reconstruction (NSNR-2020) hosted by the Government of Nepal’s National Reconstruction Authority (NRA). The theme of the session was focused on ‘Private Housing — Housing Policy from beneficiary perspective.’

Paper Title: ‘House, Household and Home: Revisiting Social Science and Policy Frameworks through Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Experiences in Nepal’

Authors: Sara Shneiderman (University of British Columbia), Jeevan Baniya (Social Science Baha), Bina Limbu (Social Science Baha), Manoj Suji (Social Science Baha), Nabin Rawal (Tribhuvan University), Prakash Chandra Subedi (Social Science Baha), Cameron Warner (Aarhus University).

Please find the recorded presentation here (approximate time 35:50-47:40).

Kathmandu Conference Presentation

Two members from our partnership team, Manoj Suji (Social Science Baha) and Nabin Rawal (Tribhuvan University) presented at the The Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal and the Himalaya on July 31st, 2020 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The paper titled “Discourse of Post-Earthquake Heritage Reconstruction: A Case Study of Bhaktapur Municipalityexplores the discourse of post-earthquake heritage focusing on how UNESCO World Heritage guidelines, and national laws as well as the involvement of different stakeholders affect heritage reconstruction. The paper explores the contested enforcement of international guidelines on heritage reconstruction, particularly in the case of Bhaktapur municipality in the Kathmandu Valley, and the impacts this has on community-led forms of reconstruction.


The 2015 Nepal earthquakes caused massive losses of human lives and physical infrastructures as well as cultural heritage. According to the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment Report, approximately 2,900 historical, cultural, religious monuments and heritage sites including World Heritage Sites in the Kathmandu Valley were damaged. When the formal reconstruction program began, major heritage sites of Kathmandu Valley including Bhaktapur Durbar Square garnered much attention of national and international stakeholders, donors, and heritage activists. However, heritage reconstruction became one of the most contested domains, especially in Bhaktapur Municipality, mainly due to the enforcement of international guidelines in heritage reconstruction. Through several months of ethnographic work in 2018 and 2019 in Bhaktapur Municipality,  this paper explores the discourse of post-earthquake heritage reconstruction focusing on how UNESCO World Heritage guidelines, and national laws as well as the involvement of different stakeholders affect heritage reconstruction? Why did Bhaktapur Municipality want to revive the Malla Period heritages through reconstruction? Through a consideration of these questions, I argue that UNESCO guidelines adopted by the Department of Archaeology seems narrow in defining heritage and capturing people’s historical values and cultural identity as well as collective memories associated with heritages, which has led to contestations on heritage reconstruction. Moreover, conflicts are also fueled due to the new policies and guidelines introduced by the federal government—the Local Government Operation Act 2017, which granted rights to the Municipality for heritage conservation and even for reconstruction. Hence, as opposed to the UNESCO guidelines, Bhaktapur Municipality opted for their own designs to revive Malla Period architectures through the reconstruction program. Likewise, the community preferred user’s committee-led reconstruction as this approach ensured a deep sense of ownership of the heritages as their historical and cultural identity, and enhanced transparency and quality reconstruction.


New publication in Development and Change

We are happy to announce that project participants Philippe Le Billon (UBC), Manoj Suji (Social Science Baha), Jeevan Baniya (Social Science Baha), Bina Limbu (Social Science Baha), Dinesh Paudel (Appalachian State University), Katharine Rankin (University of Toronto), Nabin Rawal (Tribhuvan University) and Sara Shneiderman (UBC) have just published an article in Development and Change titled “Disaster Finacialization: Earthquakes, Cashflows and Shifting Household Economies in Nepal”.

Abstract: The political economy literature on post‐disaster reconstruction tends to contrast ‘disaster capitalism’ narratives denouncing the predatory character of neoliberal rebuilding, and ‘building back better’ policies supporting market‐driven reconstruction. This article seeks to provide a more nuanced account, developing the concept of ‘disaster financialization’ through a case study of household‐level changes experienced through processes of post‐earthquake reconstruction in Nepal. The concept of disaster financialization describes not only the integration of disaster‐affected households into the cash‐based logic of reconstruction instituted by donors and government authorities, but also the financialization of their lives, social relations and subjectivities. It is a transitive process involving a shift into financialized mechanisms of disaster prevention, adaptation and recovery. Analysing contrasting experiences across three earthquake‐affected districts in Nepal, this study proposes disaster financialization as an integrative term through which to understand the simultaneous acceleration of monetization, the leveraging of cash incentives by donors and government to ‘build back better’, and the flurry of financial transactions associated with reconstruction processes. While some aspects of disaster financialization have had negative social impacts, such as debt‐related anxieties and a breakdown of voluntary labour exchanges hurting the most vulnerable, the process has taken on variegated forms, with equally variegated effects, reflecting household characteristics and interactions with financial institutions.

The article can be accessed here:

New publication in BC Studies

Project participants Ramjee Parajulee (Capilano University), Sara Shneiderman (UBC), and Ratna K. Shrestha (UBC) have recently published an article in the journal BC Studies. The article, titled “Forging Community through Disaster Response: Nepali Canadians and the 2015 Earthquakes,” explores the community ties that were forged by Nepali-Canadians in British Columbia in the aftermath of Nepal’s 2015 earthquakes. This article is available free of charge until May 30, so be sure to download it soon.

You can find the article at the following link:


Diaspora communities often play an important role in responding to disasters in their home countries. From fundraising, to providing direct relief, to providing advisory and translation services to humanitarian organizations, to speaking with the media, moments of crisis provide diverse opportunities for community engagement. In so doing, such moments of rupture may themselves work to forge diasporic identities. We argue that this was indeed the case for the Nepali-Canadian community in British Columbia. The experience of responding to the 2015 earthquakes enabled consolidation of an emergent South Asian identity in Canada, as it brought Nepali-Canadians into new relationships with each other, their home country, and other South Asian communities. Written collaboratively by a political scientist, an anthropologist and an economist (two of whom are Nepali-Canadians, with the third being an American anthropologist of Nepal who is now a permanent resident of Canada), this paper draws upon multiple disciplinary approaches to  investigate disaster response within the Nepali-Canadian community in British Columbia. In so doing, it provides the first ever scholarly introduction to the Nepali community of BC.

Working paper published: “Reconstructing Nepal: Bhaktapur – Heritage and Urban Reconstruction”

We are pleased to announce that members of our research team at Social Science Baha (Manoj Suji, Bina Limbu, Nabin Rawal, Prakash Chandra Subedi, and Jeevan Baniya) have just published the second in the working paper series ‘Reconstructing Nepal: Scholarly Approaches’ (edited by Sara Shneiderman and Deepak Thapa). This publication is based on research conducted in the midst of reconstruction activities in the ancient city of Bhaktapur. This publication follows the three core domains of our SSHRC-funded project related to construction, law and finance during the post-earthquake reconstruction in the ancient city of Bhaktapur. The main findings of this paper relate to landownership, finance, the heritage code for private housing reconstruction, World Heritage, and the activities of users’ committees and contractors in Bhaktapur.

You can find and download this publication at the following links: [publication page] [PDF]

New essay published in The Conversation

We are pleased to announce that several members of our project (Sara Shneiderman, Jeevan Baniya, Philippe Le Billon, and Deepak Thapa) have produced a short essay that was just published today in The Conversation:

It marks the fifth anniversary of Nepal’s earthquake, which is April 25th, and connects some of the outcomes from our research to the current pandemic situation. Both working papers from the project are linked in the text, among other references.

November events on Earthquake and Tsunami Aftermaths

Project lead Sara Shneiderman, Associate Professor in UBC’s Department of Anthropology and School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, organized and participated in two discussion forums on earthquake aftermaths.

The first event is a public roundtable discussion on Earthquake and Tsunami Aftermaths, held at the UBC on November 21. This roundtable integrates diverse approaches to understanding the social elements of disaster aftermaths – with an eye towards producing useable knowledge in the present as we prepare for future disasters. The speakers will share their anthropological research in India, Sri Lanka, and Japan, followed by a response focused on Vancouver from the city’s lead seismic policy planner. A pre-event tour of the exhibit Shake Up: Preserving What We Value at the Museum of Anthropology gives participants an added perspective on Indigenous earthquake knowledge along the Northwest Coast, as well as the museum’s own earthquake preparations. The event is supported by the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Arts, the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, the Department of Anthropology, the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, and the Museum of Anthropology.

The second is a panel presentation with several of the same speakers, called “Earthquake and Tsunami Aftermaths: Temporality and Transformation“. This panel was held in Vancouver, Canada on November 23 during the joint conference of the American Anthropological Association and the Canadian Anthropology Society. In addition to organizing the panel, Dr. Shneiderman gave a presentation titled “Deadlining: Restructuring, Reconstruction, and Transformation in Nepal,” which draws on the research conducted through the ‘Expertise, Labour and Mobility’ project.

For more information, additional interviews, and a video of the roundtable at UBC, please follow this link.

Working paper published: ‘Reconstructing Nepal: Post-Earthquake Experiences from Bhaktapur, Dhading, and Sindhupalchowk’

We are pleased to announce that members of our research team at Social Science Baha (Bina Limbu, Nabin Rawal, Manoj Suji, Prakash Chandra Subedi and Jeevan Baniya) have just published a working paper titled ‘Reconstructing Nepal: Post-Earthquake Experiences from Bhaktapur, Dhading and Sindhupalchowk’. This publication is based on the research conducted in three of the most earthquake-affected districts in Nepal: Bhaktapur, Dhading and Sindhupalchowk. Following the three core domains of our SSHRC-funded project related to construction, law and finance during the post-earthquake reconstruction, this paper examines various forms of expertise and governance practices in relation to house-building processes in these three regions.

You can find and download this publication at the following links: [publication page] [PDF]

February 5, 2018