Dr. Andrew Nelson | Department of Anthropology

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Dr. Andrew Nelson

Assistant Professor of Anthropology
General Academic Building 110C

My anthropological interests are guided by an urge to draw connections between the experiences of everyday life and political-economic structures. In my research, I have identified such connections through a range of spatial processes, such as the urbanization of Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, the migration and labor practices 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 'plan' their urbanizing localities on the edge of the liberalizing 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.

With graduate students, I have had the pleasure of advising projects that deal with applied anthropological questions of a spatial nature; ranging from oral histories and gentrification in Dallas neighborhoods to the social politics of development in a Mexican fishing/tourist town and the social-environmental effects of mining in Minnesota's boundary waters.


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

Project: Refugee Resettlement Services
Client: Beginners Community Support Group
Date: 2015-2016

Project: National HIV Behavioral Survey
Client: Texas Department of Health and Human Services
Date: 2014, 2016

Selected Publications

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

2017. Betrayed by the Neo-Liberal 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. '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.

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.

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.

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