Dissertation

Committee Members: Jeff Harden (co-chair), Jaimie Bleck (co-chair), Karrie Koesel, Guillermo Trejo

My dissertation investigates the politics of disasters. I use mixed methods and a subnational, comparative design in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal to ask 1.) how and why the reconstruction process varies among communities and 2.) how the reconstruction process affects political behavior. I compare post-earthquake reconstruction in three urban centers – Kathmandu, Lalitpur (Patan), and Bhaktapur – across two large natural events – the 1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake and the 2015 Gorkha earthquake. This project contributes to literatures in comparative politics, the political economy of public goods provision, post-disaster governance, and state-society relations.

Due to worldwide restrictions, I am currently working on the historical component of my project. Six months of pre-dissertation fieldwork and language-training for my project was funded by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies in the years from 2018-2020. I was awarded the 2020-2021 J. William Fulbright U.S. Student Program Fellowship to return to Nepal as soon as conditions allow, at which time I will collect qualitative and survey data as I work with my Nepal-based affiliates, the Institute of Engineering (IoE) in Pulchowk, the Samaanta Foundation, and the Martin Chautari Research Group.

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Photos taken during fieldwork in February 2020