One of the most important political transitions to occur in South Asia in recent decades was the ouster of Nepal’s monarchy in 2006 and the institution of a democratic secular republic in 2008. Based on extensive ethnographic research between 2003 and 2015, Making New Nepal provides a snapshot of an activist generation’s political coming-of-age during a decade of civil war and ongoing democratic street protests.
Amanda Snellinger illustrates this generation’s entrée into politics through the stories of five young revolutionary activists as they shift to working within the newly established party system. She explores youth in Nepali national politics as a social mechanism for political reproduction and change, demonstrating the dynamic nature of democracy as a radical ongoing process.
A brilliant book that speaks to mainstream political scientists, anthropologists of policy, and South Asia and Nepal scholars.
Heather Hindman, author of Mediating the Global: Expatria's Forms and Consequences in Kathmandu
Highly innovative in selecting a unique actor-oriented prism for analyzing the different phases of democratization. A fascinating look at how people take possession of democracy and how democratic procedures work in practice.
Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, coeditor of Nationalism and Ethnicity in Nepal
Amanda Snellinger has produced fascinating account of student activists in the context of ongoing transformations of the political system in Nepal. Conceptualizing student participation in national politics as a form of “political regeneration,” in which generations are both defined and shape change, Snellinger examines the complex fields within and beyond the country in which student “optimism” drives popular agendas, but also is caught up in gender, caste, class, and other forms of identity that simultaneously marginalize and empower youth.
Deborah Durham, coeditor of Elusive Adulthoods: The Anthropology of New Maturities
A fascinating window into radical student political activism that is crucial to understand for anyone interested in contemporary politics in South Asia.
Alpa Shah, Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science
Over the past two decades Nepal has passed through an extraordinary sequence of political changes, from monarchism to democracy to Maoism. In this highly original new book, Amanda Snellinger explores those changes from the perspective of the young activists at the very heart of the action. The result is a major contribution to the anthropology of youth, of the state, and, above all, of the political.
Jonathan Spencer, Regius Professor of South Asian Language, Culture, and Society, University of Edinburgh
This important new book provides a richly detailed picture of changing political dynamics in Nepal. Building on long-term research with young people, Snellinger illustrates how a new generation are remaking politics and society in a region of South Asia. The book is timely, pertinent, and very well informed.
Craig Jeffrey, Director, Australia India Institute, University of Melbourne
For nearly 70 years student politics have been a crucial part Nepal’s turbulent history. Here, for first time, a detailed ethnographic monograph invites us into that world. Amanda Snellinger’s engaging book is a triumphant vindication of participant observation combined with political commitment. It will be an essential text on Nepal and South Asia, as well as in the fields of political anthropology and youth studies, for many years to come.
David Gellner, professor of social anthropology, University of Oxford
A powerful first-hand view into how democracy is reshaped in twenty-first century Nepal. Making New Nepal should be read by anyone interested in the anthropology of student politics, cultures of leadership and political entrepreneurship.
Lucia Michelutti, author of The Vernacularisation of Democracy: Politics, Caste, and Religion in India
By tracing the political lives of five student activists over more than a decade, Amanda Snellinger makes an important contribution to political anthropology and South Asian studies as she illuminates the motivations that drive these young people’s entry into formal politics as well as the obstacles that they encounter in their efforts to realize their ambitions. . . .her book is an insightful analysis of how political structures reproduce themselves by socializing young people into their organizational practices, disciplining youthful idealism with the pragmatics of party politics.
American Ethnologist (AE)