Accepted paper:

Homogenization of social movement dynamics under a 'clever' Nepali state, 2007-2012

Authors:

Lokranjan Parajuli (Martin Chautari)

Paper short abstract:

The Nepali state reached agreements with around two dozen agitating groups from 2007 to 2012. The focus of this paper is on those agreements and their subsequent executions or lack thereof. The paper comments on the particularities of both the movements and the Nepali state during those five years.

Paper long abstract:

Following the success of the2006 popular movement in Nepal, there was a rise in the number of successful social movements—successful in that they were able to force the state to respond as well as agree to their principal demands. Starting with the Madhesi movement in early 2007, the Nepali state reached agreements/understandings with around two dozen agitating groups by May 2012. The focus of this paper is on those agreements/understandings, and their subsequent executions or lack thereof. Through this focus, the paper attempts to comment on the particularities of both the movements and the Nepali state during those five years. First I will show that these movements have largely followed a similar trajectory before concluding with an agreement with the state. In so doing, they have entrenched a particular template of a 'successful' movement, thus contributing to the homogenization of movement dynamics in Nepal. Second, I look at the performance of the Nepali state as it entered into various understandings/agreements with the different movements. One common principal demand of all movements was "recognition". In looking at the various agreements as evidence of state recognition, it would be tempting to show that by agreeing even to mutually exclusive demands, the Nepali state was a particularly weak one during this phase. Instead I argue that the agreements that it entered into show that the Nepali state during this period was neither weak nor strong but rather a particularly 'clever' one, performing its job according to the demands of the day.

panel P042
Politics, culture, and cultural politics in the Himalayas