Enquiries on state, government, and the political subject in Nepal
Ankita Shrestha will engage in theorisations, debates, and empirical understandings of state and power broadly situated in the disciplines of political geography, political sociology, and intellectual history. Her PhD project attempts to study the concept of state and its many loci in Nepal, where political-historical established notions of state and its 'government' are challenged. Her research methodology centres on the study of the concepts of state and government through an ethnography of the 'political subject'. She will particularly engage in FPE research and critiques of political subjectivity.
Objectives of the research
Climate change adaptation programmes are being implemented around the world in an attempt to help people respond to the challenges of rapidly changing environments. Much of the research on adaptation focuses on transforming people’s behaviour or infrastructure needs, yet ‘environmental change’, ‘conflict’ and ‘violence’ are produced through social-political processes that operate in everyday contexts. In other words, responses to climate change are mediated through environmental governance, including the discourses, institutions, claims to authority, and sense of responsibility for governing resources. Working in Nepal the ESR will explore how conflict includes everyday social struggles that can produce inequality, exclusion and poverty, while and how violence refers to both sporadic and organised physical violence between individuals and groups. The ESR will focus on the social-political mechanisms through which environmental change impacts are mediated working with communities in Nepal. The study will focus on: the narratives of perceptions of environmental change; the rules and practices for governing resources; struggles over the right to govern; and struggles over how people come to understand their own responsibilities and abilities to respond to environmental change.
The ESR will offer new insights into how to address the social causes of vulnerability and inequity in ways that can mitigate the risk of causing further conflict.
Ankita Shrestha joined the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo as a WEGO-ITN scholar in September 2018. PhD courses she has taken at the University of Oslo include Qualitative Research Methods and Analysis, Philosophy of Social Science, Ethics, and Dissemination. She has since fulfilled most of her PhD course requirements and presented her PhD research proposal to the Department’s Research Directors at her home institution. Her Qualitative Research Methods course required her to present her research methodology to her colleagues and professors for critical analysis and feedback. In June 2019, she completed her first secondment at IDS, Sussex, where she attended numerous seminars and presented her research project to a cluster of IDS researchers, faculty members, and secondment supervisors. She took the Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2019 Feminist Political Ecology course, convened by her supervisor and WEGO-ITN mentor Professor Andrea Nightingale, and received her Norwegian Centre for Research Data ethics assessment for her research project in July 2019. Her research training in the first year of her PhD helped her to revise her research topic and methodology significantly, enabling her to present a conference paper based on her research methodology at the sixth annual Governance at the Edge of the State Conference at the University of Copenhagen as a Rural Governance panellist in August 2019. In November 2019, she went to Nepal for her ethnographic fieldwork, concluded her field study in March 2020, following the pandemic lockdown in Nepal. She returned to her home institution in Oslo in June 2020 just before the WEGO-ITN online training lab. She continues to collate, transcribe, and analyse her data and plan to start writing her thesis soon.