Expanding spaces of participation: insights from an infrastructural project in rural Nepal
Abstract. The spread of participatory development worldwide has multiplied opportunities for local population to engage in paid and unpaid development activities. However, scholars have pointed out that participatory approaches bear the risk of strengthening unequal social structures, despite their emphasis on democratisation and inclusion. This paper investigates the case of a Swiss-funded infrastructural project in rural Nepal, analysing the role of participatory spaces in the dynamics of development resource capture. The empirical material collected suggests that, although participatory development has created more opportunities for social mobility, these opportunities are not necessarily open to everyone. In the case studied, the transformational potential of participation is only partially fulfilled.