This article expands the sociology of development literature by unpacking how the influx of hundreds of NGOs and INGOs following Nepal’s 2015 earthquakes operated as an unprecedented “post-disaster development surge.” Reframing reconstruction as development renders visible the linkages, continuations, and ruptures between the post-earthquake reconstruction and the existing development paradigm in Nepal. This study draws on qualitative research conducted in two districts severely affected by the earthquakes to examine the local unintended consequences of reconstruction through a critical development lens. I find that post-earthquake reconstruction in Nepal was embedded within broader historical, political, cultural, and social relations of development that significantly shaped the reconstruction process and its unintended outcomes. The research suggests that Nepal’s post-earthquake development surge produced two paradoxical effects at the local level: it accentuated practices and scales of power previously defined by development, and it catalyzed shifting expectations and furthered the questioning of prevailing development doxa. These findings provide key insights to inform future post-disaster reconstruction efforts and mitigate unintended consequences at the local level.

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