New book on Nepal’s constitutional journey

Constitutional Nationalism and Legal Exclusion: Equity, Identity Politics and Democracy in Nepal by Mara Malagodi

This book is a detailed case study of Nepal’s post-1990 constitutional experience. It examines the complex relationship between law and politics, and emphasizes the role of cultural identity in making institutional choices relating to the framing and implementation of the Nepali Constitution. The volume also analyses the patterns of legal exclusion that resulted in the growing politicization of identity, the de-legitimization of the 1990 Constitution, and the current demand for state-restructuring based on ethnic federalism and group rights. The author, tracing the evolution of Nepal from a constitutional monarchy to a republic, analyses the drafting of the 1990 Constitution, the impact of the Maoist insurgency (1996-2006) on demands for constitutional change, the relationship between conflict and demands for recognition, and the role of Nepal’s Supreme Court in the articulation of identity politics. Based on pathbreaking research, this volume would be immensely useful to scholars, teachers, and students of law, politics, and international relations.

The book is available here.

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 ethnolinguistic, regional, and religious groups featured prominently in the constitution-making debates. The 1990 Constitution, however, adopted the strategy of ‘unity in diversity’ and institutionalized ethnocultural notion of the Nepali nation revolving around historically hegemonic Parbatiya narratives: Hinduism, the Shah monarchy, and the Nepali language. The ethnocultural articulation of 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–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.

(Based on the flyer sent by OUP)

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