Accepted paper:

Revolutionary violence and the changing political dynamics of Nepal (1996-2006)

Author:

Subho Basu (McGill University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explains how the structural violence of governing elites in everyday life transforms into a systematic violence during the Maoist rebellion in Nepal.

Paper long abstract:

Despite the common depiction of Nepal as an earthly paradise 'sheltered' from the touch of 'modernity', for nearly two millennia Himalaya harbors complex societies and polities that are engaged in commerce, experience foreign military adventures and serve as the recruiting zone of modern globally deployed imperial armies. Indeed, the gap between the promises of modernity and the stark reality of deprivation and environmental degradation led to the de-legitimization of non-democratic forms of governance in Nepal. Between 1996 and 2006 Nepal experienced massive civil war between the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the patrimonial quasi-monarchical regime. The civil war also ended nearly two hundred years old dynastic regime and the post-civil war negotiations led to the installation of a secular republican democratic state. This paper explains how the structural violence of governing elites in everyday life transforms into a systematic violence during the Maoist rebellion. Maoists inflicted selective violence against rural elites and police officials to compel the state to retreat from the rural areas. In retaliation the army indulged in random violence in rebel areas to deny rebels of psychological advantage. This systematic violence actually created an environment of terror and violence induced migration and even palace massacre and royal coup. The endemic violence thus caused a crisis of governance and paved the way for mass movement for the reinstallation of democracy.

panel P27
Understanding poltical violence in South Asia