The Fragments And Their Nation(S): Sensitive Space Along The India-Bangladesh Border
Borders are often described as "sensitive" areas-exceptional and dangerous spaces at once central to national imaginaries and at the limits of state control. Yet what does sensitivity mean for those who live in, and those who are in charge of regulating, such spaces? Why do these areas persist as spaces of conflict and confusion? This dissertation explores these questions in relation to a series of enclaves-sovereign pieces of India inside of Bangladesh and vice versa-clustered along the Northern India-Bangladesh border. In it, I develop the notion of "sensitivity" as an analytic for understanding spaces like the enclaves, showing how they are zones within which postcolonial fears about sovereignty, security, identity, and national survival become mapped onto territory. I outline the politics of sensitivity and the production of sensitive space through both historical and ethnographic research. First, I explore the ways that ambiguity and vague fears about security and citizenship emerge as forms of moral regulation within and in relation to the enclaves. Specifically, I interrogate the processes through which information about the enclaves is regulated and policed and the ambiguity, suspicion, and insecurity that emerge out of such practices. Second, I examine the historical production of the enclaves as sensitive spaces. I ask how the enclaves were transformed from one of many administrative complications related to the new and hastily drawn border between India and East Pakistan in 1947 to symbols that were appropriated by various nationalist groups in India and Bangladesh as markers of national obligation and territorial threat. Third, I explore the ways residents of these contentious spaces frame their own histories as claims to belonging (in community, nation, and state). I examine how such claims are often indexed to possessions (belongings) and the way these claims shape the contours of membership within the enclaves themselves. Finally, I interrogate ways that various competing projects of rule coalesce in the enclaves to reconfigure power, opportunity, and expropriation. In doing so, I examine the ways that projects of territorial definition, national incorporation, and monitoring and regulation are experienced similarly by residents as various forms of spatial corruptions.
India-Bangladesh Border; Sensitivity and Sensitive Space; State-Formation
McMichael, Philip David; Tagliacozzo, Eric
Ph. D., Development Sociology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis