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Loyalty and Voice: Affective and Pragmatic Interventions in Parsa, Nepal

Amanda Snellinger

University of Washington



In the 21st century, Nepal shifted from civil war to restructuring "new Nepal." Both foreign donors and the new government prioritized investing in young people as part of their state-rebuilding efforts. Regardless, many educated young people cite politics and the government as obstacles to securing salaried work. The government’s desire for young citizens to support the restructured state is being undermined by its inconsistent policy interventions and the fact that these policies don’t address the endemic socio-economic issues that have marginalized many. This talk examines young peoples’ strategies of getting on despite the state by engaging the contemporary debate on Exit, Voice, and Loyalty.  I suggest that state negligence has created a negative feedback loop that discourages people from fully investing in state sanctioned mechanisms. Instead young people blend together various strategies at their disposal, including outmigration, illicit activities, entrepreneurship, social activism, and party politics to forge ahead. However, these young people’s loyalty to family and community has a generative effect that mitigates this negative feedback loop. I highlight how their sub-nationalism has generated new modes of collective subjectivity, which in 2015 consolidated into intervention that challenged conservative nationalism & introduced an alternative discourse of national belonging.