On the Subject of Corruption: “Community Contributions” and the Labour of Infrastructural Development in Post-Earthquake Nepal

In: Public Anthropologist
Sara Shneiderman Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology and School of Public Policy & Global Affairs, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

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This piece explores ethnographically how new “subjects” of corruption are formulated through discursive and practical negotiations over the appropriate behaviour of those who would have previously been understood as subalterns. I explore these questions in the context of a reconstruction project in post-conflict, post-earthquake Nepal. Newly rendered as “community members” and “users,” in the language of both governmental and non-governmental agencies, I suggest that residents of Nepal’s rural areas navigate rapidly evolving state structures, domestic labour markets, and transnational relationships by practicing new forms of agency that can put them at odds with the expectations of the external actors who offer resources and regulate their use.

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