“Let’s See What Happens”

Hope, Contingency, and Speculation in Nepali Student Activism

Author: Amanda Snellinger


This article analyzes Nepali student activists’ resistance and resilience as strategies that foreground their aspirations within existing political constructs. While they may enter into party politics through student organizations, they downplay their roles as political party foot soldiers. By focusing on their creative strategies and coping mechanisms during the political movement that ousted the monarchy in 2006, I highlight the nature of hope in youth political action through a common phrase they use: “Let’s see what happens.” Using the concept of ‘subjunctive instrumentality’ and ethnographic engagement, I analyze students’ internal micro-politics alongside public protests to demonstrate how they interweave the categories of idealism and opportunism, simultaneously inhabiting both in a way that makes politics personal and the personal political.  These student activists’ “not-yet” orientation, in which they mobilize political, temporal, and symbolic contingencies, provides alternative templates for the present and visions for the future.

Regions: South Asia
Countries: Nepal

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© 2004 ILO/Cassidy K.