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Accepted Paper:

The 'big' earthquake in Nepal: discourses on fatalism and resilience  
Mallika Shakya (South Asian University, Delhi)

Paper short abstract:

This paper reviews the discourses on fatalism and resilience that emerged following the earthquake in Nepal. An ethnography of a border town probing perceptions about bureaucratic lethargy and local volunteerism will be situated against the media stories emerging from global and local reportage.

Paper long abstract:

Nepal underwent a continuous shift in mood, intensity and introspection in the months following the earthquake that hit its central hill region in April 2015. This paper makes sense of the emerging dialectic of fatalism-verses-resilience attributed to the Nepali society and nation in the immediate aftermath of the crisis. I draw on three sets of inspections. First is a critical review of the coverage in global media, which sprung into action immediately after the rupture to report facts from the ground as well as to offer sleek (if stereotypical) interpretations of local behavior. It took few days for the local newspapers and television channels to resume full operations and for social media to react to the foreign media's depiction of the earthquake and its aftermath. The global-local media discord including but not limited to a twitter hashtag campaign #IndianMediaGoHome constitutes the second set of my inspection. The third set involves an ethnographic fieldwork I did on a Nepal-India border town probing the two dominant rhetoric about "bureaucratic lethargy" and "local youth volunteerism" in facilitating through the customs point the logistical flow of relief goods destined for the earthquake-hit hills. My argument is that anthropologists must develop an especially strong appetite for nuance to be able to peel through layers of meaning to overcome the inherent biases of culturalism and developmentalism while comprehending notions about aid, rescue, rehabilitation and trauma.

Panel P037
Resilience, disaster, and anthropological knowledge [DICAN]
  Session 1