Accepted Paper:

'No buffalo!': work at stake in Nepal's transformation to 'modernity'  
Sascha Fuller (The University of Newcastle)

Paper short abstract:

A year-long family conflict over keeping buffalo demonstrates exactly the ways in which development as discourse has resulted in a loss of control over particular forms of work in Nepal, with a possible future crisis of identity and of place for an older generation of Nepali men and women.

Paper long abstract:

In Amdanda, a small Bahun hamlet in West Nepal, caste and gendered labouring hierarchies still underpin village life, however, their contemporary forms are further shaped by education, migration and 'development'. They are also transformed and/or are under threat from 'modern' economics and global discourse. Drawing on ethnographic material that describes a year-long family conflict over keeping buffalo, I demonstrate exactly the ways in which development as discourse is penetrating penetrates and transforming local processes, with a possible future crisis of identity and of place for an older generation of Nepali men and women.

In village Nepal human-buffalo relationships hold particular meaning for the way groups of people relate to each other, to development, and to the environment. They also reveal key relationships and practices that show a society on the cusp of gendered, generational and environmental change, and therefore, future uncertainty and potential crisis. I argue that in the conflicts over keeping buffalo; in the discursive associations with, or a distancing from buffalo, work is at stake. The greatest problem faced by villagers is the loss of control over particular forms of work. In the face of change then, the big question for villagers is, if your practical activities cease to exist how do you reconceptualise yourself as a person?

Panel P03
Development interventions both vivifying and mortiferous: replacement, ruination and revitalisation in ecological and cultural systems