Mapping historical and contemporary agrarian transformations and capitalist infiltration in a complex upland environment: A case from Eastern Nepal

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  • International Water Management Institute


The relationship mountain communities have with global capitalism are complex, being mediated by a diverse topography and ecology, which both provide opportunities for capital accumulation, while also isolating older, ‘pre-capitalist’ modes of production. This paper takes a case study valley from Nepal’s eastern hills, tracing over two centuries of agrarian change and evolving interactions between ‘adivasi’ and ‘semi-feudal’ economic formations with capitalism. In recent years, the expansion of markets, rising demand for cash and climate stress has solidified migrant labour as a core component of livelihoods, and the primary mechanism of surplus appropriation from the hill peasantry. Through a focus on three altitudinal zones however, it is demonstrated how the trajectory of this transformation, including the interactions with persisting pre-capitalist formations is mediated by both political-economic processes, and the local agro-ecological context.


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Agrarian Change
Early online date12 Dec 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Dec 2017


  • capitalism , climate change , livelihoods , markets , Nepal