A Project of Memoreality: Transnational Development and Local Activism
2018, pp. xxiv + 284
ISBN: 978 9937 597 42 5
This is an ethnographic study of a group of rural women from south-central Nepal brought together by a development intervention. It details how these women used their collective identity forged through an income-generating project to address issues such as women’s property rights, domestic violence, gambling and alcoholism, and even political representation. In examining the intended as well as unintended consequences of an externally initiated ‘women’s development project’, Shah assesses the structural limitations of a development enterprise while also focusing on what he terms the creative agency of the project beneficiaries. This agency becomes apparent in a number of ways, including the construction and projection of memory into the domain of social significance, or ‘memoreality’; the ready adoption of transnational flows of discourses, resources, and legitimacies; and the use of the tools of development to politicise other arenas of socio-political life. A Project of Memoreality will serve as an important contribution to understanding the dynamics of women’s activism in Nepal as well as the complexities of the development industry.
Saubhagya Shah was Associate Professor of Sociology at Tribhuvan University, where he also established the Conflict, Peace, and Development Studies programme and served as its first Coordinator. He received his MA in Sociology from Tribhuvan University and a PhD in Anthropology from Harvard University. In between, he also worked as a reporter for The Rising Nepal. His writings include ‘From Evil State to Civil Society’ (in State of Nepal, edited by Kanak Mani Dixit and Shastri Ramachandaran, 2002); ‘A Himalayan Red Herring? Maoist Revolution in the Shadow of the Legacy Raj’ (in Himalayan ‘People’s War’: Nepal’s Maoist Rebellion, edited by Michael Hutt, 2004), ‘Paradise Regained and Lost? April’s Sizzle and February’s Chill’ (in The Inclusive State: Reflections on Reinventing Nepal, edited by Anand Aditya, 2007), Civil Society in Uncivil Places: Soft State and Regime Change in Nepal (2008), ‘Revolution and reaction in the Himalayas: Cultural Resistance and the Maoist “new regime” in Western Nepal’ (American Ethnologist, 2008), ‘The Nepali Post-Conflict: Prospects for Conflict Transformation and Democratic Consolidation’ (Journal of International Affairs, 2009), and ‘Sovereign Deficit: Fragmented Polity, Defense Dilemma and the Battle for Civilian Supremacy in Nepal’ (Contributions to Nepalese Studies, 2009). He passed away in December 2009.