Discourses of awareness: Development, social movements and the practices of freedom in Nepal

Fujikura, Tatsuro

     This dissertation explores the ways in which projects of development and social transformation, through both their successes and failures, have helped produce, over the past five decades, new forms of imagination and socio-political engagements in Nepal. The following chapters will examine the work of transnational development experts and their critics, as well as that of village leaders, revolutionary party workers, social activists and bonded agricultural laborers. All, through their various initiatives, articulate new visions and practices of democracy within a rapidly changing socio-political context characterized by dynamic asymmetries of power. In this dissertation, I will explore development projects initiated by foreigners designed to promote 'self-help' and grassroots democracy in rural Nepal. I will also explore various initiatives by rural Nepalis to constitute themselves, individually and collectively, as political agents in the presence of powerful discourses that describe them as ignorant, irrational and potentially dangerous. More specifically, I will be discussing, among other things, how the self-conception of contemporary village leaders, the revolutionary visions of the Maoists, and the mobilization for the liberation of bonded laborers, all emerge out of the history of a variety of projects for individual and societal transformation and improvement. By examining the processes and outcomes of these socio-cultural and political projects that simultaneously involve local, national and transnational actors and networks, I hope to contribute, among other things, to the ongoing scholarly efforts to explore the difficulties and possibilities of alliances and collaboration among individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds and social locations.

Kelly, John D.