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The date for my PhD viva has arrived (March 3rd), and the coming days are going to involve considerable preparation. The fieldwork took place in 2008, so my memory needs to be refreshed. It involved 100 interviews with subject matter experts, political leaders, ex-combatants and ordinary residents from remote parts of Nepal.

It also included the collection of about 750 questionnaire responses, through which it was possible to do quantitative analysis. The basic focus was upon how the Maoists managed to generate support from the local populace during the course of the conflict. Although there is a general consensus in the wider literature that insurgents require support during their campaigns, there is often ambiguity as to whether this refers to attitudes (a preference for the insurgents), or behaviours (providing food, shelter, information and so on). This is an important distinction because the former does not necessarily lead to the latter, and the latter can also be gained through coercion.

The field research was really eye opening, and it was great to be able to spend some time in remote parts of Nepal. Once the viva is out of the way, the aim will be to continue this research through other case studies.

Posted by: James Khalil, Conflict Specialist