Andrew Haxby is a PhD Candidate in the anthropology department at the University of Michigan. He is a past Fulbright scholar to Kathmandu, and holds an MFA in creative writing from the New School. His area of interests include: economic anthropology, debt, shamanism, Christianity, semiotics and ethics.
Although it is banal to say the series of earthquakes that hit Nepal in Spring 2015 will radically change the country, what this change will consist of still remains undetermined. As many earthquake victims learn to make do in broken houses, tents, or corrugated tin structures, post-earthquake Nepal seems held within a frustrating stasis, wherein temporary hardship is often impossible to distinguish from lasting consequence. Yet this sense of stasis is in part misleading. While the act of building remains slow, households who lost their homes have been scrambling to rethink their financial futures in order to afford reconstruction. In doing so, many earthquake victims have begun to enact changes in their households, accelerating divisions and unearthing tensions that had hitherto been allowed to lie dormant. Revitalizing Meyer Fortes’ classic discussions of amity and the development cycle, I introduce the stories of three informants who attempt to maintain the virtues of kinship in spite of the financial pressures they bear. I also explore how their actions reflect a reckoning between legal ownership and everyday household ownership practices – a reckoning that has affected how household members interact, often in unpredictable ways.
The author thanks the University of Michigan, the Wenner Gren Foundation, and the National Science Foundation for their support, without which this research would not have been possible. The author also thanks his advisors, Tom Fricke, Stuart Kirsch, and Matthew Hull, for their guidance on this project and on this article.
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Haxby, Andrew W.. 2017. The Maintenance of Virtue Over Time: Notes on Changing Household Lives in Post-Disaster Nepal. HIMALAYA 37(2).
Available at: https://digitalcommons.macalester.edu/himalaya/vol37/iss2/10