Yale Himalaya Initiative

environment | livelihood | culture

Building Back Better?: The Scalar Politics of Disaster and Development in Post-Earthquake Nepal

Event time: 
Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - 5:00pm
Luce Auditorium See map
34 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

Austin Lord

Director of Rasuwa Relief |

PhD Student of Anthropology, Cornell University | 

Yale F&ES, MESc 2014  

Drawing from his experience as a researcher and humanitarian working in Nepal in the wake of the earthquakes that struck Nepal in April and May of 2015, Austin will analyze the social and political dimensions of contemporary ‘post-earthquake Nepal’. Specific topics include the different scales of disaster, the scalar politics of response and recovery, and the implications of the Nepal earthquakes of 2015 and their aftermath for long term infrastructure development and national planning. This analysis will span from immediate personal experience in the Langtang Valley at the time of the earthquake, to ongoing research focused on disaster-management and patterns of infrastructure development, to questions concerning the future management of geopolitical, financial, and seismic risk in the Himalayan zone. In short, the talk will focus on the ways in which the 2015 earthquakes and political activity and inactivity have affected patterns of inequality and uneven access across Nepal, leading to the opening and closure of hope for differently imagined futures.

Austin currently lives and works in Kathmandu, where he serves as the Director of Rasuwa Relief (a humanitarian volunteer initiative which has provided diverse kinds of immediate and long-term support to over 4,300 Nepali households in the wake of the disaster), an Advisor to the Langtang Management & Reconstruction Committee, and an independent research consultant who has advised a variety of institutions in the post-disaster context. In the coming years, Austin will continue his long-term research on hydropower development, energy security, and post-disaster futures in Nepal as a Doctoral Student of Anthropology at Cornell University. Austin is also a photographer, and his visual ethnographic work can be found at http://www.austinlord.com

Pictures from the event: Click here