Forging Community through Disaster Response
Nepali Canadians and the 2015 Earthquakes
Diaspora communities often play an important role in responding to disasters in their home countries. From fundraising, to providing direct relief, to providing advisory and translation services to humanitarian organizations, to speaking with the media, moments of crisis provide diverse opportunities for community engagement. In so doing, such moments of rupture may themselves work to forge diasporic identities. We argue that this was indeed the case for the Nepali-Canadian community in British Columbia. The experience of responding to the 2015 earthquakes enabled consolidation of an emergent South Asian identity in Canada, as it brought Nepali-Canadians into new relationships with each other, their home country, and other South Asian communities. Written collaboratively by a political scientist, an anthropologist and an economist (two of whom are Nepali-Canadians, with the third being an American anthropologist of Nepal who is now a permanent resident of Canada), this paper draws upon multiple disciplinary approaches to investigate disaster response within the Nepali-Canadian community in British Columbia. In so doing, it provides the first ever scholarly introduction to the Nepali community of BC.