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Title: 'Changing times' : war and social transformation in Mid-Western Nepal
Author: Zharkevich, Ina
ISNI:       0000 0004 5361 5236
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis is an ethnographic account of social change, triggered by the civil war in Nepal (1996-2006). Based on an ethnographic fieldwork in the village of Thabang, the war-time capital of the Maoist base area, this thesis explores the transformative impact of the conflict on people’s everyday lives and on the constitution of key hierarchies structuring Nepali society. Rather than focusing on violence and fear – the commonly researched themes in warzones – the thesis examines people’s everyday social and embodied practices during the war and its aftermath, arguing that these remain central to our understanding of war-time social processes and the ways in which they shape the contours of post-conflict society. By focusing on mundane practices – such as meat-eating and alcohol-drinking, raising livestock and worshipping gods – the thesis demonstrates how change at the micro-level is illustrative of a profound transformation in the social structures constituting Nepali society. Theoretically, the thesis seeks to understand how the situation of war re-orders society: in this case, how people in the Maoist base area interiorized formerly transgressive norms and practices, and how these practices were normalized in the post-conflict environment. The research revealed that much of the change triggered by the conflict came as a result of the ‘exceptional’ times of war and the necessity to follow ‘rules that apply in times of crisis’. Thus, in adopting transgressive practices during the conflict, people were responding to the expediency of war-time rather than following Maoist war-time policies or ‘propaganda’. Furthermore, while adopting hitherto unimaginable practices and making them into habitual action, people transformed the rigid social structures, without necessarily intending to do so. The thesis puts particular stress on the centrality of unintended consequences in social change, the power of embodied practice in making change real, and the ways in which agency and structure are mutually constitutive.
Supervisor: Jo, Boyden; David, Gellner; David, Gellner Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anthropology ; Conflict ; Nepal ; People's War ; Maoism ; Maoist base area ; civil war ; revolution ; conflict zone ; guerilla enclave ; anthropology of war and conflict ; post-conflict reconstruction ; post-conflict societies ; social change ; everyday life during war ; war-time social processes ; youth ; generation and conflict ; peasants ; civilians and guerillas ; practice theory ; embodiment and embodied change ; agency in conflict ; habitus ; Bourdieu