Consenting disaster capitalism: entanglement of the NGO aid industry, community infrastructure and post-disaster accumulation in Nepal

Authors: Dinesh Paudel*, Appalachian State University
Topics: Asia
Keywords: DIsaster Capitalism, Nepal, Earthquake
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Gallier B, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The post-earthquake social, political and economic changes have swiftly pushed Nepal into a state of disaster capitalism following the 2015 earthquakes by opening up space for almost unregulated investments, extraction and exploitation. It follows the idea of ‘build back the country better’ – a World Bank concept that allows capital-led socio-economic restructuring in post-disaster society. There is a growing ‘developmental desire’ among people, cultivated by the long history of aid industry. The flows of the market and capital investments to rural ‘hinterlands’ have been unprecedented. This accelerated rate of capital flow is neither simply an overflow of surplus capital from urban core nor the violent dispossession of people for accumulation by the state and the market. Why and how capital penetrates to post-disaster rural areas swiftly and massively, institutionalizing infrastructural schemes of accumulation as a “desiring process” of social change? This paper shows that the growing emphasis on community infrastructure development has played a central role in creating particular community level discourse of change and progress, allowing to emerge a nexus between the large-scale infrastructure investments and community based infrastructure development, primarily the road, through petty contractors, local political elites and development facilitators. NGO leaders, facilitators, consultants, and petty contractors benefit from this process and the form of disaster capitalism looks both “natural” and unprecedented at the same time. Community infrastructuralism is a centripetal force of disaster capitalism especially in agrarian society where accumulation accelerates through and reproduced by desires for development, an element completely ignored in disaster capitalism literature.

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