Current Institutional Affiliation
Lead User Experience Researcher

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Emory University
Urban Contestations: Neoliberalism, Maoism, and Post-Revolutionary Politics in Kathmandu's Squatter Settlements

On May 8th, 2012, under the direction of the Maoist-led government, five branches of the government bureaucracy launched a coordinated 'attack' on an informal settlement of Kathmandu's urban poor living on the banks of the Bagmati River in Thapathali – Kathmandu, Nepal. Despite the fact that the urban poor had been among the Maoists' core constituencies during the communists' rise to power, and had been singled out (together with other marginal groups) in party documents as deserving of special consideration and protection, the Maoist-led government proceeded to force these people from their homes, and has pursued a more general policy of displacing squatter settlements in Kathmandu and elsewhere. In the wake of a decade-long (1996-2006) armed revolutionary Maoist movement, the Maoist Party that had come to power by promising to abolish private property and to support the working classes, subsequently used the rhetoric of private property to discredit and displace the urban poor. In such a context, how do squatter groups, many of whom are Maoists themselves, respond to the paradoxical accommodation of neoliberal economic policies, political practices, and modes of government by the Maoist regime? How has the Maoist party justified its position with respect to squatter groups in Kathmandu? And what are the emergent social/political formations through which squatter groups navigate the complex post-revolutionary political terrain in Kathmandu, Nepal? Using the politics of urban squatters in Kathmandu as a point of entry, this anthropological project explores the struggles of marginalized Maoist constituencies (such as squatter groups in Kathmandu) to organize collective action as they negotiate the contradictions between 'revolutionary Maoism' and 'neoliberal Maoism'. Doing so, this project will draw upon and contribute to scholarship on neoliberalism, and communism and state socialism.