Preliminary abstract: How do we imagine the ideal state that we aspire to live in? I address this question in anthropological terms through a multi-sited ethnography of state restructuring in Nepal since 2006. In the wake of a decade-long civil conflict between Maoist and state forces in this erstwhile unitary Himalayan kingdom turned secular democratic federal republic of nearly 30 million, I transpose Victor Turner's long-standing 'invitation to investigators of ritual to focus their attention on the phenomena and processes of mid-transition' (1967: 110) to the political realm. Despite a 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and 2008 Constituent Assembly elections, a new constitution has yet to be promulgated, making 2014 the eighth year of Nepal's 'mid-transition'. I ask: In this temporally protracted liminal state, how do discourses and practices of restructuring articulated at the national and global level work to produce affective experiences of transformation for ordinary citizens in a range of locales outside the political center of Kathmandu? How do these experiences of transformation shape the political consciousness and aspirations of individuals and collectivities? How are such aspirations expressed in discursive and material terms, and what do they tell us about the structural and functional dimensions of the imagined state of the future? Finally, how do such localized imaginaries of ideal state structure intersect with national and transnational visions of order as articulated by both Nepali and international institutional actors? I address these questions through a focus on the domains of citizenship, territory and religiosity as spaces within which imaginaries of the state's functions and structures in transition are revealed in both material and discursive terms.
Post-Ph.D. Research Grant
British Columbia, U. of
Shneiderman, Dr. Sara Beth, U. of British Columbia, Vancouver, Cananda - To aid research on 'Restructuring Life: Citizenship, Territory and Religiosity in Nepal's State of Transition'