Nepal’s Failing Democracy? Findings from an Oral History Project

- Richard Bownas

Discussion Type: Research Seminar Series | Date: 30 Jun 2024 | Time: 03:00 PM


30 June 2024/१६ असार २०८१ (आइतबार, दिउँसो ३ बजे)
Research Seminar Series
(Jointly Organized by Fulbright Nepal and Martin Chautari)
Nepal’s Failing Democracy? Findings from an Oral History Project
Richard Bownas, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, University of Northern Colorado, USA

Biographical Note
Dr Richard Bownas has been a student of Nepali politics and society for many years, since his days as a volunteer teacher in the 1990's. He completed his Masters at the London School of Economics and his PhD in political science (Government) at Cornell University. Since then, he has done research and published articles on the politics of caste, religious change, post-disaster reconstruction and post-civil war transformations. He visits Nepal once a year for research and this year is here through Fulbright as a scholar conducting an oral history project in multiple regions of Nepal.  Dr Bownas teaches political science and international affairs in Colorado, USA.

In this presentation I will explore findings from oral history interviews with approximately 80 older individuals (60+) from across Nepal. Interviews were focused on the respondents’ experience of political change during their lifetimes. Findings from these interviews allow us to chart a grassroots history of changing perceptions about democracy from non-elite actors. The presentation will explore commonalities of experience of political change since the panchayat era and will use the diversity of respondents to analyze key differences (such as they exist) by caste, region and gender. In the second half of the presentation, causal explanations are offered to explain the perceived failings of Nepal’s multi-party democratic experiment in the eyes of a majority of respondents. Explanations will focus on the ‘particization’ of everyday socio-economic life in Nepal, drawing on the oral history interviews themselves and additional interviews from a wide range of respondents involved in political party activities at the grassroots level.

- Richard Bownas

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