Accepted paper:

Radical citizens: on ideological formation and 'terror' tactics of Maoist cadres in Nepal's transition to democracy

Authors:

Dan Hirslund (University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

Building on 10 months of ethnographic fieldwork, this paper seeks to show the continued relevance of a Maoist vocabulary to actual practices of alter-politics through an analysis of how ideas of a radical citizen in post-war Nepal have emerged that seeks to combine popular forms of activism with loyalty to politics as ‘necessity’.

Paper long abstract:

What can Maoism in non-industrialized countries teach us about current global challenges of justice and activist politics? Despite the demise of state-socialist revolutionary movements in the West, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties have continued to challenge state structures in other parts of the world. Following the European crisis of violent insurrection after the 1970's and the deligitimization of Soviet socialism, it has become difficult to envision critical political activism beyond local resistances to capitalism from 'below'. Building on 10 months fieldwork with cadres of the Maoist movement in Nepal, this paper seeks to show the continued relevance of a radical political vocabulary to actual practices of alter-politics. In a context where violent opposition has lost its legitimacy - going from a People's War to a peace process - new forms and ideas of activism have surfaced that are relevant for a general Marxist-inspired politics to ponder. Drawing on cadres' militarized training and the politicization of public space, I trace the way Maoist activist adjust their tactics to a changed political environment without negliging its core analysis of society as class-based and its ideas of direct justice. Thus, I analyze how ideas of a radical citizen have emerged that seek to combine popular forms of activism with loyalty to politics as 'necessity'. Digging out the notion of 'terror' from the Marxist closet to theorize this nexus between Maoist cadres and radical politics in peace-time, I suggest the relevance of rethinking it as an analytic for combining questions of truth, vigilance and politics.

panel W121
Inspiring alter-politics: anthropology and critical political thinking (EN-FR)