Current Institutional Affiliation
Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, Harvard University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Yale University
Borderland Orders: The Gendered Economy of Mobility and Control in North Bengal

How are borderlands produced in the intersections of disparate national regimes of control and transnational practices of border-crossings? This project investigates the constitution of the borderland between India and Bangladesh as a discrete spatial entity with a gendered socio-economic terrain, in the face of increasing militarization of the postcolonial border. India's initiative to fence and guard its 4,000 km long border with Bangladesh will produce, upon completion, the longest fenced international border in the world. However the border runs through a region that is historically and culturally linked, and densely inhabited by Hindu and Muslim Bengalis, with enduring economic and socio-familial ties and commercial and religious networks and routes. These ties are reconfigured and new economies generated through people's negotiations of the states' attempts to control the flow of people and goods between the two countries. Through twelve months of ethnographic research I will study how Bengali men and women in both countries are differently involved in transborder movements in everyday life as a part of the economy of the borderland. This involvement includes complex relations of power as residents contest and are also complicit with male security forces deployed by India and Bangladesh on their respective sides of the border. My study thus foregrounds the gendered relations and plural conceptions of law and economy that undergird the risky calculations that residents of this region make in their 'illegal' transborder activities within this borderland space. In this way, this project clarifies the relationship between historically constituted regional networks of mobility and iterations of conflicting notions and scales of belonging and 'security'.