Mara Malagodi

Room:  New Academic Building 6.34
Tel. 020-7955-7870
Twitter:  @RestlessMafalda

Mara Malagodi is British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Law Department at the LSE. Mara’s project (2012-15) investigates patterns of exclusion of Nepal’s ethnolinguistic, religious and regional groups, dalits, women and LGBTs in the constitutional arena following the re-democratisation of 1990 by mapping Supreme Court’s decisions interpreting the Right to Equality. Mara holds her doctorate, MA in South Asian Studies and BA in Nepali & Politics from SOAS (London), her Laurea Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from the University of Trieste, and GDL from the College of Law. Mara is now completing her qualification as a Barrister and is a member of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, which has been supporting her legal training through the Blackstone Entrance Exhibition (2010) and BPTC Quatercentenary Scholarship (2011).

Research Interests
  • Comparative constitutional law

  • South Asian laws (esp. Nepal, India, Pakistan)

  • Human rights

  • Law and conflict

External Activities



Constitutional Nationalism and Legal Exclusion - Equality, Identity Politics and Democracy in Nepal (1990-2007) (Delhi: Oxford University Press  2013)

This book is a detailed case study of Nepal's post-1990 constitutional experience. It examines the complex relationship between law and politics, and emphasizes the role of cultural identity in making institutional choices relating to the framing and implementation of the Nepali Constitution. The volume also analyses the patterns of legal exclusion that resulted in the growing politicization of identity, the de-legitimization of the 1990 Constitution, and the current demand for state-restructuring based on ethnic federalism and group rights.
The author, tracing the evolution of Nepal from a constitutional monarchy to a republic, analyses the drafting of the 1990 Constitution, the impact of the Maoist insurgency (1996-2006) on demands for constitutional change, the relationship between conflict and demands for recognition, and the role of Nepal's Supreme Court in the articulation of identity politics.

Selected articles
and chapters in books

'Ivor Jennings's Constitutional Legacy beyond the Occidental-Oriental Divide' Journal of Law and Society 1 (2015) pp.102-126

Sir W. Ivor Jennings (1903–1965) was one of Britain's most prominent constitutional law scholars of the twentieth century. He is mostly famed for his work in the 1930s on English Public Law. In 1941, Jennings, however, moved to Sri Lanka, progressively becoming involved in both an academic and professional capacity with constitutional processes across the decolonizing world in the early stages of the Cold War. This article provides an alternative account of Jennings's constitutional legacy to those of existing scholars by combining orthodox accounts of the ‘Occidental Jennings’ with an analysis of the neglected ‘Oriental’ experiences of this influential intellectual. It examines the ambiguous relationship between constitutionalism and democracy in Jennings's constitutional work overseas, and the impact of his postcolonial work on his views on constitutionalism.

‘The Oriental Jennings’: An Archival Investigation into Sir Ivor Jennings' Constitutional Legacy in South Asia Legal Information Management (2014) 14(1), pp. 33-37.

This article by Mara Malagodi investigates the legacy of British constitutionalist Sir Ivor Jennings (1903–1965) in South Asia. In 1941, when Jennings moved to Sri Lanka, a new phase of prolific writing on the laws of the British Empire and Commonwealth began for him, together with a practical engagement with constitution-making experiences in decolonising nations across Asia and Africa. The archival material relating to Jennings' work on postcolonial constitutional issues forms part of the collection of Jennings' Private Papers held at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in London. This article seeks to explain why this material has until now remained so under-researched.

‘Protection of Religious Rights in India’ In James Dingemans QC et al. (eds.), The Protection of Religious Rights: Law & Practice. (2013) Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.177-194

'Constitutional Developments in a Himalayan Kingdom: The Experience of Nepal' In: Khilnani, Sunil and Raghavan, Vikram and Thiruvengadam, Arun, (eds.), Comparative Constitutionalism in South Asia. (2013) Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 87-115.

This chapter offers an account of Nepal's constitutional developments over the years in light of the ‘interaction between indigenous law and transplanted law’. The author reflects upon the modalities of the political transformations that have occurred in Nepal over the past 250 years, with particular reference to the influence of external legal and political concepts. After tracing the constitutional history of Nepal, the author examines the 1990 Constitution and its demise, and what it tells us about political processes in Nepal between 1990 and early 2007, and about democratic politics in the country more generally. It argues that it was a flawed constitution that failed to adequately accommodate the aspirations of the people. The promulgation of the 2007 Interim Constitution has endeavoured to ignite a process of state restructuring and the creation of a ‘New Nepal’. A new document recognizing Nepal's inner plurality, rooted in social hybridity and fostering a civic sense of belonging, with an emphasis on citizenship and rights rather than constitutional arrangements based on a polarized essentialising identity lines, is the need of the hour. The long-term success of the political process currently underway to establish lasting peace in Nepal will depend ultimately upon whether the present constitution-making endeavours achieve consensus and stability.

‘Nepal History’ In South Asia: The Europa Regional Surveys of the World. (2012) London: Routledge, pp.460-476.

Rasaratnam, Madurika and Malagodi, Mara  'Eyes wide shut: persistent conflict and liberal peace-building in Nepal and Sri Lanka' Conflict, Security and Development (2012) 12 (3). pp. 299-327.

The decisive, albeit different, endings of armed conflict in Sri Lanka and Nepal and subsequent post-war developments challenge key assumptions about conflict that have informed post-Cold War international efforts to produce peace in such conflict zones. International intervention including in Sri Lanka and Nepal characterises armed conflict as sustained by specific political economies that can only be stably resolved by establishing liberal democracy and market economics. This paper examines liberal peace engagement in Sri Lanka and Nepal to challenge a crucial assumption of the persistent conflict thesis, namely the separation between political contestation and armed conflict. It argues that the divergent post-conflict outcomes of continuing ethnic polarisation in Sri Lanka and constitutional reform in Nepal reveal strong continuities in the dynamics of pre-war, war and post-war politics. This continuity challenges the presumed separation of politics and violence that drove international engagement to produce liberal peace and suggests that such engagement, far from encouraging reform, may have (inadvertently) sustained conflict in both cases.

'Constitutional Change and the Quest for Legal Inclusion in Nepal' In: Harvey, Colin and Schwartz, Alexander, (eds.), Rights in Divided Societies. (2012)  Hart Publishing, pp. 169-193.

'The End of a National Monarchy: Nepal’s Recent Constitutional Transition from Hindu Kingdom to Secular Federal Republic.' Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism (2011) 11 (2). pp. 234-251.

The article analyses Nepal's transition in 2007 from the constitutional definition of the state as a ‘Hindu monarchical kingdom’ to a ‘secular federal republic’, followed by the abolition of the Shah monarchy in 2008. Nepal's institutional change in 2007–2008 invites reflection on the role of Hindu kingship in informing Nepali nationalism in its constitutional formulation. The developments of the Shah monarchy are interpreted as the product of both the institution and the various historical figures that have occupied that institutional place. However, it is argued that the more or less charismatic qualities of individual Shah kings were ‘contained’ within and minimised by the prevailing institutional dimension of the monarchy in defining the Nepali nation. The nationalist legitimacy of the Shah monarchy as Nepal's core political institution rested upon the notion of Hindu kingship, which transcended the single historical personalities of the Shah kings and proved so pervasive that it has shaped the constitutional definition of the nation even in republican Nepal.

'The Cost of Reconciliation - Impunity and Accountability in Post-Conflict Nepal' Law & Society Trust Review (2010) 21 (275-27). pp. 35-47.

'Minority Rights and Constitutional Borrowings in the Drafting of Nepal's 1990 Constitution' European Bulletin of Himalayan Research (2010) 37. pp. 56-81.

'Forging the Nepali Nation through Law: A Reflection on the Use of Western Legal Tools in a Himalayan Kingdom' Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism (2008) 8 (3). pp. 433-452.

The present article endeavours to analyse the use and scope of Western positivistic legal tools in the creation of the Nepali nation. It suggests a two-level analysis. First, a historical analysis of Nepal's political and legal developments is presented to investigate the rationale of using law as a social engineering and homogenising tool promoting an identifiably Nepali national identity. Second, the article focuses on the current debates concerning constitutional change in Nepal. The debates about the demise of the 1990 Constitution in 2007, and the election of a Constituent Assembly need to be investigated in the light of the growing politicisation of ethnicity in the country. The overarching demand for inclusion stems from the discontent of Nepal's ethno-linguistic, religious, and regional minorities with their historical subordination. Ultimately, the article aims to demonstrate that the Nepali experience is situated somewhere between the civic and ethnic models of nationalism Kohn enunciated.


13 December 2013, #NepalCounts: A Post-Mortem of the CA2 Elections India @ LSE Blog

17 December 2013, Interview on Monocle24, The Globalist Asia

2 December 2013, Interview on Monocle24, The Globalist Asia

5 November 2013, Interview on Monocle24, The Globalist Asia

15 November 2013, ‘Nepal at the Polls’ India @ LSE Blog:

 22 July 2013, Constitutionalism, state restructuring and identity politics in Nepal’ India @ LSE Blog:

 21 May 2011, ‘Nepal’s Difficult Constitutional Transition’ opendemocracy: