This dissertation explores the relationship between the long history of development and peasant rebellions in Nepal by drawing on ethnographic inquiries of a pre-history of Nepal's Maoist revolution of the 1990s. Specifically, it interrogates the transformations generated by the Rapti Integrated Development Project in peasants' moral economy, ecological processes, appropriation of the commons and peasants' consciousness, and their role in creating the conditions of possibility for the emergence of the Maoist revolution. Various developmental schemes successfully enrolled rural villages into development projects, ostensibly to contain an upsurge in rebellious sentiments. Ironically, these same subjects of development later became the backbone of the Maoist rebellion and were instrumental in spreading the armed revolt against the state throughout Nepal. The Rapti region was hailed as a model of success for agrarian development in one era and the locus of the peasant-led Maoist revolution in another. The main question asked in this research was why the Maoist revolution emerged from Rapti area of Nepal despite the long history of development in the region.
My main argument in this dissertation is that development involves simultaneous processes of enrollment and othering of subaltern subjects, which I call development's "double life". This is central to how we understand the relationship between development and rebellion in the global South. Developmental conditions are reproduced through hegemonic ideas and practices, and it normalizes certain kinds of knowledge and subject positions, aside from producing economic domination, vulnerability and scarcity. At the same time, development carries the potential to incite political awareness among marginalized groups that can result in a willingness to rebel at the individual level and to engage in collective defiance or revolt. Conceptual and empirical contradictions inherent to development generate such possibilities in particular times and spaces. In peasant society, the enrollment and othering of subaltern subjects are manifested in everyday livelihood practices, in historically evolved metabolic interactions with nature, and in the transformation of individual and collective subjectivities and consciousness. This dissertation demonstrates that the organic intellectuals can articulate these processes of enrollment and othering, reproduced in development, to generate a new commonsense, instigating rebellious consciousness and transformative possibilities.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2012. Major: Geography. Advisors: Vinay Gidwani and Abdi Samatar. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 261 pages.
The double life of development: peasants, agrarian livelihoods, and the prehistory of Nepal's Maoist revolution.
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