Andrew Nelson | Department of Anthropology

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Andrew Nelson

Assistant Professor of Anthropology
General Academic Building 110C

My research seeks ethnographic connections between the experiences of everyday life and political-economic structures. I have identified such connections through a range of spatial processes, such as the urbanization of Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, the migration and labor strategies of South Asians in the Americas, and the home-buying practices of Nepali-Bhutanese refugees in Ft. Worth, Texas. In particular, my work demonstrates how residents self-organize their localities on the edge of a sprawling city; how migrants negotiate global economic trends and shifting immigration policies to forge creative pathways of labor and mobility; and, how refugees create economic networks of social solidarity to turn impersonal suburbs into familiar neighborhoods. In my teaching, I use courses in theory, urbanism, migration, and South Asia to emphasize anthropological approaches rooted in decolonization, social justice, counter-politics, and political economy.


2013, Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Virginia
2004, M.A. Anthropology of Media, University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies
2000, B.A. Anthropology, Grinnell College

Selected Consulting Projects

2019-2020. Project on gas station safety with the Non-Resident Nepali Association-Global Health & Hygiene Committee

2019. Advised student-led project on student debt for New America

2017. Advised student-led project on affordable housing for National Housing Conference

2017. Advised student-led project on town-gown relations for City of Denton (conducted with students of ANTH 4011)

2015-2016. Consultant to Beginners Community Support Group, a DFW-area refugee NGO

2014, 2016. Ethnographer for the National HIV Behavioral Survey; Texas Department of Health and Human Services

Selected Publications

Edited Volumes

2019. Nelson, A., A. Rödlach & R. Willems, eds. The Crux of Refugee Resettlement: Rebuilding Social Networks. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books.


2019. Architectural Tradition and Modernity as Crypto-Colonial Ways of Seeing: A Comparison of Kathmandu's 1934 and 2015 Post-Quake Reconstructions. History Compass 17(8).

2019. 'There will never be a foreclosure in our community': Networks of dependence in the secondary relocation of Nepali-Bhutanese refugees. In The Crux of Refugee Resettlement: Rebuilding Social Networks, edited by A. Nelson, A. Rödlach, and R. Willems. Pp. 215-235. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books.

2018. Dalal Middlemen and Peri-Urbanisation in Nepal. Economic and Political Weekly 53(12): 61-67.

2018. Between Here and There: The Accidental South Asian Diaspora of Quito, Ecuador. In Porous Borders, Invisible Boundaries? Ethnographic Perspectives on the Vicissitudes of Contemporary Migration, edited by J. Howell, D. Altamirano, F. Totah & F. Keles. Pp. 111-116. Committee on Refugees and Immigrants, AAA Publications.

2017. Prestigious Houses or Provisional Homes? The ghar as a Symbol of Kathmandu Valley Peri-Urbanism. Himalaya 37(1): 57-71.

2017. Betrayed by the Neoliberal State, Neglected by the 'Jangali' Company: The Anxiety of Autonomy in an Elite Housing Colony in Kathmandu, Nepal. City and Society 29(1): 35-58.

2015. Land and Ethnicity in a Time of Urbanization: The Case of Plot #7 in Western Kathmandu Valley. Studies in Nepali History and Society 20(2): 249-277.

2015. Prestigious Houses or Provisional Homes? The ghar as a Symbol of Kathmandu Valley Peri-Urbanism. Himalaya 37(1): 57-71.

2015. Land and Ethnicity in a Time of Urbanization: The Case of Plot #7 in Western Kathmandu Valley. Studies in Nepali History and Society 20(2): 249-277.

2013. The Mobility of Permanence: The Process of Relocating to Kathmandu. Working Paper II. Kathmandu, Nepal: Centre for the Study of Labour and Mobility.

2012. Khattam Kathmandu: The Question of Place in Samrat Upadhyay's Fiction. Studies in Nepali History and Society 17(1): 3-23.

2011. 'No Horn Please': Sociality and Self-Governance in a Kathmandu Housing Colony." In Urban Navigations: Politics, Space, and the City in South Asia, eds. Jonathan S. Anjaria and Colin McFarlane, Routledge.

2009. From 'Unmodern Sherpas' to Madhesi Cricketers: Towards a History of Nepali Sport. International Journal of the History of Sport 28(12): 1823-1839.


2018-2020. Dallas Morning News series on migration, co-written with Rob Curran

The Border has shifted 2000 miles to the south

She cooks the native dishes of global migrants who stream through Mexico

An Arrival but not an Ending

How Migrants from the impoverished corners of the earth find their way across the border to Texas

Migrants face a treacherous jungle hike and nighttime boat transfers on their journey to the U.S.

2015. 'We need an even bigger one': Disasters of Inequality in Post-Quake Kathmandu Valley. Hotspots, Cultural Anthropology Website.

2015. Classquake: What the Global Media missed in Nepal Earthquake Coverage. The Conversation, May 24th.

Selected Presentations

2017. Nepalis to el Norte and el Sur: The Shadow Migrations and Labor Schemes of Nepalis in the Americas. Workshop on Circuits of Labour, Migration and Debt: International Labour Migrants, their Families, and the Migration Industry in Nepal. Oxford, England.

2017. The Legacy of the Feudal State in Kathmandu Valley Peri-Urban Sprawl: Rethinking the 'Failed Planning' Narrative. Workshop on Frontier Urbanism: Tracking Transformations in Agrarian Urban Hinterlands of South Asia Workshop. New Delhi, India.

2016. Neither Here Nor There: The Accidental South Asian Diaspora of Quito, Ecuador. South Asia Institute, University of Texas-Austin.

2016. "Moving to 'Where the Bus and Train Don't Go': Racial and Class Ideologies of Urban Space for Nepali-Bhutanese Refugees in North Texas." Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting, Vancouver, British Colombia.

2016. "The View from Above: The Privilege and Anxiety of Living in Kathmandu's New Housing Colonies." Himalayan Studies Conference, Austin, Texas.

2015. "Between Social Evil and Necessity: Toward a Meaning of Middlemen in Nepal." Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal and the Himalaya, Kathmandu, Nepal.

2015. "Is Bhutani Ghar to Nepali Camp as Suburban House is to Urban Apartment? The Social Networks of Relocation for Nepali-Bhutanese Refugees in North Texas." Society for Applied Anthropology Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

2014. "American Apartments, Bihar Boxes, and a Neo-Newari Renaissance: 21st Century Kathmandu Houses." South Asian Studies Conference, Madison, Wisconsin.

2014. "Nepalis to El Norte: Questions for Nepali Migration to the United States via Latin America." Himalayan Policy Research Conference, Madison, Wisconsin.

2014. "The Cultural Context of Bhutanese Refugees." Asian American Association of City Employees, 16th Annual Asian Pacific Heritage Month Celebration, Dallas City Hall.

2014. "Nepali, Bhutanese, or American? Questions of Nationality and Citizenship amongst Elder Nepali-Bhutanese Refugees in Dallas, Texas." Himalayan Studies Conference, New Haven, Connecticut.

2013. "From Newar Urbanism to Nepali Suburbanism: A Social History of Kathmandu's Sprawl." South Asia Institute, University of Texas-Austin.

2011. "Towards a Post-Crypto-Colonialism: Notes on the Anthropology of Nepal's Non-Colonial Condition." American Anthropological Association meeting, Montréal, Quebec.

2009. 'No Horn Please': The Desire for Security, Order, and Community in a Kathmandu Housing Colony." Fulbright South Asia Conference, Kolkata, India.

2009. "Kathmanduko Nayabasti: Basāĩ-Sarāĩ, Planning, Pakki Ghar, ṭatha tol Samiti." Martin Chautari, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Regularly Taught Courses

ANTH 1150: World Cultures through Film
ANTH 3700: Peoples and Cultures of South Asia
ANTH 4760/5760: Inequality, Social Justice & the City
ANTH 5021: Theory & Praxis II
ANTH 5300: Migrants & Refugees

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