Narrating Boundaries: Framing and Contesting Suffering, Community, and Belonging in Enclaves along the India-Bangladesh Border

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This paper explores the politics of community making at the India-Bangladesh border by examining the public and private narratives of history and belonging in a Bangladeshi enclave-a sovereign piece of Bangladesh completely territorially surrounded by India. Drawing on framings of political society, this paper argues that understanding populations at the margins of South Asia and beyond requires attention to two processes: first, to the ways that para-legal activities are part and parcel of daily life; and second, to the strategies through which these groups construct themselves as moral communities deserving of inclusion within the state. Border communities often articulate narratives of dispossession, exceptionality, and marginalization to researchers and other visitors-narratives that are often unproblematically reproduced in academic treatments of the border. However, such articulations mask both the complicated histories and quotidian realities of border life. This paper views these articulations as political projects in and of themselves. By reading the more hidden histories of life in this border enclave, this article reconstructs the notion of borders as experienced by enclave residents themselves. It shows the ways that the politics of the India-Bangladesh border are constitutive of (and constituted by) a range of fractures and internal boundaries within the enclave. These boundaries are as central to forging community-to articulating who belongs and why-as are more public narratives that frame enclave residents as victims of confused territorial configurations. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Political Geography



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International Relations

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