Mara Malagodi, Constitutional Nationalism and Legal Exclusion: Equality, Identity Politics and Democracy in Nepal (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013)


In the spring of 1990 a People's Movement led by the underground political parties succeeded in restoring democracy to Nepal. After three decades of monarchical autocracy, the Himalayan Kingdom embarked on a delicate phase of transitional politics. A new constitution was drafted in 1990 to institutionalize the compromise between the King and the political parties. Nepal's regime change opened a Pandora's box of identity politics. Demands for recognition by women, dalits, and the country's many ethno-linguistic, regional, and religious groups featured prominently in the constitution-making debates. The 1990 Constitution, however, adopted the strategy of 'unity in diversity' and institutionalized an ethnocultural nation of the Nepali nation revolving around historically hegemonic Parbatiya narratives: Hinduism, the Shah monarchy, and the Nepali Language. The ethnocultural articulation Nepal's National identity in the 1990 constitutional settlement, together with its successive implementation, raised serious concerns about the legal exclusion of many segments of Nepali society.

Adopting the approach of historical institutionalism, this volume analyses key issues in Nepali constitutional politics: constitution-making dynamics in the 1990 transition, demands for constitutional change during the Maoist insurgency (1996-2006), patterns of legal exclusion leading to a growing politicization of identity, the impact of Supreme Court Court-level constitutional adjudication, and current demands for State-restructuring focusing on ethnic federalism and group rights.

A timely empirical study based on the debates of the Constitution Recommendation Commission, Nepali legal sources, and interviews with key constitutional actors conducted by the author, this volume will be invaluable for scholars, teachers, and students of law, political science, and international relations, as well as lawyers, judges, researchers, and policymakers interested in Nepal, India, and other South Asian jurisdictions.


(Publisher's Note)



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