My research builds on an ethnographic study of political movements in rural Nepal, by conceptually grounding them in political economic and historical analyses of capitalist development and state formation. The South Asian periphery has become an important region, where the crisis of the state and the rise of political movements make it necessary to understand the inter-relation between these wider structures of power and local cultural meanings of resistance. My doctoral research focuses on the post-conflict context of the Maoist insurgency in Nepal by ethnographically studying the Kham Magar community – which has played a significant role in the Nepali state formation process. By studying the contemporary forms of resistance against capitalism and the state of the indigenous Magar people, I show in what way the political world of rural Nepal is tied to the state formation and world-historical processes connected to capitalist development in the region.
My research also looks at the current process of the uneven proletarization of the Kham Magars. My ethnographic material focuses on the uneven development of revolutionary action, the establishment of the Maoist base area, and the Maoist guerilla economy in the village of Maikot, in West Nepal. This ethnographic material further explores how peasant livelihoods were affected and transformed by the revolution. My research draws on interviews with former combatants to show why disappointment is an important aspect of post-revolutionary politics. This has helped me discuss the coordinates of the post-revolutionary common sense, according to which people feel caught between past expectations and current disappointments. I bring the narratives of disappointment into the perspective of post-war village restructuring around a lucrative mushroom picking business found in the highland pastures above the village. In the aftermath of the People’s War, the so-called yarsagumba (caterpillar fungus) became the most important source of income for many people in rural Nepal. By following the history of the local mushroom economy in the village of Maikot and by analyzing the different governance systems that established new relations between state and non-state actors, I argue that the emergence of the post-war politics of autonomy and other forms of commoning can conceal the dependency and exploitation created by the yarsagumba commodity chain.
Matjaz Pinter, “Attending GIEFF (German International Ethnographic Film Festival) at the Time of the Pandemic”, Anthrovision [Online], Vol. 9.1 | 2021, Online since 30 November 2022, connection on 13 December 2022. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/anthrovision/8662
Matjaz Pinter, « The Partial Revolution: Labour, social movements and the invisible hand of Mao in western Nepal, by Michael Hoffman », European Bulletin of Himalayan Research [Online], 54 | 2020, Online since 15 March 2022, connection on 17 May 2022. URL: http://preo.u-bourgogne.fr/ebhr/index.php?id=381
Pinter, Matjaz (2016) “Review of “The Bullet and the Ballot Box: The Story of Nepal’s Maoist Revolution’ by Aditya Adhikari,” Himalaya, the Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies: Vol. 36: No. 1, Article 29.