Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Kimber Haddix McKay

Commitee Members

G.G. Weix, Ranjan Shrestha


Violence, Agency, Nepal, Social suffering


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Social and Cultural Anthropology


In 2015, Nepal was struck by two catastrophes. First, on April 25, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, followed by hundreds of aftershocks, struck in Gorkha. Then, in September, a blockade was formed that prevented goods from passing through trade checkpoints between India and Nepal. Both of these events highlight social suffering, a form of suffering that refers to the systems of oppression, unequal distribution of resources, and broad social structures that serve to keep certain people impoverished and subjugate. The earthquake caused the most damage to vulnerable people, people already suffering the effects of structural violence. The blockade was created by Madhesis, an ethnic group in southern Nepal, as a means of protesting unfairness in the new constitution, namely unfair citizenship rules and unfair federal state lines. However, despite these hardships, Nepalis have demonstrated significant resilience. Many Nepalis created their own aid agencies and relief missions to help their countrymen. The blockade itself was a show of agency. These events have garnered Nepal significant international attention, leading many tourists to the country. Volunteer tourists went to make a difference, while disaster tourists went to take a look at the destruction. This thesis examines the earthquakes, blockade, and tourism through the lens of social suffering, showing that despite the numerous catastrophes and setbacks, Nepalis have maintained their agency, refusing to let the violence and vulnerability determine their futures.



© Copyright 2017 Kassandra D. Viers