Anthropology and Environment Society
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
During my preliminary field work in Dakshinkali, Nepal, I explored the layered understanding of development as ‘dependent convenience,’ through the lens of age and gender. Convenience in the Nepali context is embodied in a packet of chau chau --cheap, tasty, and widely available instant noodles highly popular among urban Nepali. Chau chau has to be transported using roads, and comes in a non-biodegradable plastic packet. To purchase chau chau, one needs to be employed in the cities or abroad, and becomes no longer available for subsistence production and public work, causing changes in relationships and reliance on market commodities replacing subsistence products. Thus, convenience is coupled with dependency on external labor demand and commodities. The implications of convenience are highly visible in Dakshinkali--pollution and accumulating solid waste in the village hill slope, farmers migrating and leaving productive land and families behind, resulting in food insecurity, land degradation and the lack of autonomous human capital for the post-2015 earthquake reconstruction. The Dakshinkali experience challenges the rhetoric of ‘sustainable development’, which persistently overlooks the contradictions between market globalization and resource sovereignty, community solidarity, and retainment of autonomous human capital as local knowledge holders. People experience convenience in a complex manner. For instance, chau chau itself is viewed unfavorably by elder women—it is not nutritious, compared to the fresh products from one’s own cultivation. This nuanced understanding of is rooted in a phenomenological approach, that recenters the experience of differently positioned ‘subjects’ of development.