Dialectical Anthropology

, 33:287 | Cite as

The formation of political consciousness in rural Nepal

  • Sara Beth ShneidermanEmail author


This chapter considers the formation of political consciousness at the village level in Nepal through an ethno-historical examination of the 1984 Piskar Massacre, in which a local festival in Sindhupalchok district became a fatal confrontation between villagers and the police. Using a Gramscian theoretical framework, this case study suggests how we might broadly conceptualize the formation of political consciousness in rural Nepal as a key historical process, in relation to which any genuine understanding of motivations behind participation in the Maoist movement in particular, and the political sphere in general, must be considered.


Nepal Maoist Political consciousness Crisis of hegemony Antonio Gramsci Ethnography of conflict and violence Nationalism Ethnicity Class 



This article draws upon research conducted between 1999 and 2007, funded by major grants from the Fulbright Commission, the National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council, as well as small grants from the Department of Anthropology and the Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University. I initially presented these ideas in conference panels organized by the Association of Nepal and Himalayan Studies in Madison, Wisconsin in 2002, and Social Science Baha in Kathmandu in 2003. Thanks are due to the participants of those panels, as well as to David Holmberg, Sushma Joshi, Genevieve Lakier, Kathryn March, John Metz, Shambhu Oja, Jakob Rigi, Matt Rothwell, Deepak Thapa and Mark Turin, all of whom have contributed to this paper over time. I am grateful to Judith Pettigrew and Alpa Shah for giving me the opportunity to republish this article here, and for their careful comments and suggestions. Finally, I thank Bir Bahadur Thami, Man Bahadur Thami, the people of Piskar, and the larger Thangmi communities of Sindhupalchok and Dolakha.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St Catharine’s CollegeUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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