YOU ARE NOT MY BROTHER MIZO NATIONALISM AT THE EDGE OF THE INDIAN EMPIRE
This multimodal ethnography engages feminist filmmaking, autoethnography, montage, poetry, historicity, and activist ethnography, as methods and epistemics, to understand Christian Indigenous resistance on the India-Myanmar-Bangladesh borderlands. It examines how Mizos, a community of one million people living at the edges of the British and Indian Empires, create and maintain their Indigenous and Christian identities, through fraught interactions with actors they see as nationally, ethnically, religiously, culturally, and morally different. Drawing on three years of anthropological research conducted between 2014-2021 in India (Mizoram, Manipur, Assam, Delhi, and Goa) and in Burma, I examine the articulation of Mizo identity against three boundaries: an external, political boundary, vis-a-vis the Indian state; a linguistic, cultural and religious internal boundary vis-a-vis the Hmar, Mara, Chin, Bru, and Chakma ethnic minorities living in Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Assam; and a self-reproducing moral boundary vis-à-vis Mizoram’s sexual and moral minorities (drug and alcohol addicts and the LGBT). Bringing the above articulations of Mizoness in conversation with their invisiblized counter-voices, I interrogate the hyphen that links the nation with the state and frame Mizo nationalism as an everyday, felt historicity, inter-generationally transmitted and transmuted into longue durée resistance, as the unrelenting dream of a nation without form. At epistemic level, this research embraces multimodality as a transgressive form of critical socio-cultural analysis, as a response to recent calls to expand Indigenous Studies beyond the Western-centric, White, Settler-Colonial frameworks that shape it. It pushes thus against, and sometimes fully exists, the binaries of colonizer and colonized; nation and the state; ethnicity and its others; homonationalist and LGBT socialities; history and myth-making; ethnography and fiction; and pathos and logos. Ultimately, this project is an archive of absences, of their excesses, and how they remap the dominant geographies, temporalities, socio-political formations, and the mutually constitutive yet competing Utopian orientations of the Mizo and Indian nations.
Feminist Filmmaking; Indigenous Studies; Non-Postcolonial Epistemic; Queer Studies; South and Southeast Asia; Zomia Borderlands
Sniadecki, John; Munasinghe, Viranjini P.; Raheja, Natasha
Ph. D., Anthropology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis