DOI: 10.12924/johs2022.18020035 |Publication Date: 28 October 2022

Gender, Populism and Collective Identity: a Feminist Analysis of the Maoist Movement in Nepal

Heidi Riley 1, * , Hanna Ketola 2 and Punam Yadav 3
1 School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
2 Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, England
3 Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London, London, England
* Corresponding author
Abstract:

This article examines the construction of gender agendas in left-wing populist movements that mobilise for armed struggle, by focusing on the case of the Maoist movement in Nepal. Feminist scholarship has highlighted how left-wing populism, when appealing to a generalized “people”, tend to produce homogenizing discourses that erase inequalities and difference, even when such movements integrate a gender dimension. Examining the trajectory of the Maoist movement over time, we argue that this ‘sameness’ may become contested and utilized by women participating in the lower echelons of the movement, as the political reality shifts from conflict to post-conflict context. As our main contribution, we develop a bi-directional approach that employs the concept of collective identity and allows us to examine the construction of populist agendas as a two-way interaction between the leadership of a movement and its grass roots supporters. Through this approach we show how the gender dimension was not merely a bi-product but central to both the construction of the Maoist movement’s war time ‘progressive’ identity, and the fragmentation of this identity and the movement’s populist appeal in the post-conflict context.


Keywords: Conflict; Feminism; Ex-combatant; Gender; Identity; Nepal; Populism

Citation


2012 - 2022 by the authors; licensee Librello, Switzerland. This open access article was published under a Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).