Expertise, Labour and Mobility in Nepal’s Post-Conflict, Post-Disaster Reconstruction

In 2015, Nepal experienced a series of devastating earthquakes that left 9,000 people dead, 20,000 injured and over 600,000 homes destroyed. The socio-economic and environmental impacts of this catastrophe unfolded in a context of protracted political upheaval in the wake of a decade long civil conflict between Maoist insurgents and state forces from 1996-2006, a nearly decade-long period of transition, and ultimately the adoption of a new constitution in September 2015. 

Although each region felt the effects of the earthquakes very differently, in the reconstruction process overarching challenges such as access to construction materials and government funding, adherence to strict building codes, availability of skilled and unskilled labourers, and the sustainability of local forms of knowledge have been key concerns across the country. These issues provide a pathway for understanding the complexities and contradictions present in Nepal’s ongoing reconstruction, and compel us to think more broadly about how disasters may intersect with political dynamics to provoke social transformation.

During her time as a Wall Scholar in the 2017-2018 academic year, Sara Shneiderman (Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology and School of Public Policy & Global Affairs) launched a SSHRC-funded research partnership with Social Science Baha, a research institute in Nepal, and several other partners across Canada, Denmark and the US. The team has conducted two rounds of ethnographic research around the themes of Construction, Finance and Law in three different earthquake-affected districts of Nepal with the objective of understanding how diverse communities have experienced the aftermath of the disaster. This video was recorded on June 12, 2018.

Additional resources on this topic:

Expertise, Labour and Mobility in Nepal’s Post-Conflict, Post-Disaster Reconstruction 

Photo essay by members of the Social Science Baha research team 

Reconstructing Nepal: The 2015 Earthquakes and their aftermath (A UBC Library Research Guide to Scholarly, Governmental, and Non-Governmental Publications)


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Wall Scholar receives SSHRC award to study Nepal’s post-earthquake reconstruction