Borderland Lives in Northern South Asia provides valuable new ethnographic insights into life along some of the most contentious borders in the world. The collected essays portray existence at different points across India's northern frontiers and, in one instance, along borders within India. Whether discussing Shi'i Muslims striving to be patriotic Indians in the Kashmiri district of Kargil or Bangladeshis living uneasily in an enclave surrounded by Indian territory, the contributors show that state borders in Northern South Asia are complex sites of contestation.
India's borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma/Myanmar, China and Nepal encompass radically different ways of life, a whole spectrum of relationships to the state, and many struggles with urgent identity issues. Taken together, the essays show how it is possible to comprehend Northern South Asia's various nation-state projects without relapsing into conventional nationalist accounts.
Academic borderland studies are dominated by examples from North America (especially the US-Mexico border) and from Europe; this volume shows that examples from Northern South Asia also deserve a central place in discussions of borders and state-making.
This book will be an essential reference for South and Southeast Asian specialists, for anthropologists, sociologists, and historians of the region, for anyone interested in border and boundary issues, and for those using and studying ethnographic approaches to the state.
David N. Gellner is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford.
Introduction | David N. Gellner
Northern South Asia’s Diverse Borders,
from Kachchh to Mizoram
1. Borders without Borderlands: On the Social Reproduction of State Demarcation in Rajasthan
2. Allegiance and Alienation: Border Dynamics in Kargil
3. Naturalizing the Himalaya-as-Border in Uttarakhand
4. On the Way to India: Nepali Rituals of Border Crossing
Sondra L. Hausner | Jeevan R. Sharma
5. The Perils of Being a Borderland People: On the Lhotshampas of Bhutan
6. Developing the Border: The State and the Political Economy of Development in Arunachal Pradesh
Deepak K. Mishra
7. The Micropolitics of Borders: The Issue of Greater Nagaland (or Nagalim)
8. Nodes of Control in a South(east) Asian Borderland
9. Histories of Belonging(s): Narrating Territory, Possession, and Dispossession at the
10. Geographies and Identities: Subaltern Partition Stories along Bengal’s Southern Frontier
Afterword | Willem van Schendel
Making the Most of ‘Sensitive’ Borders