Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of Texas / Austin

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2005
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Sociology, Cornell University
The Fragments and Their Nations: Marginality, Citizenship, and Territory in the India-Bangladesh Enclaves

Along the India-Bangladesh border are more than two hundred enclaves: small, non-contiguous Bangladeshi territories bounded by India and vice-versa. They are acknowledged by each state but remain "unadministered" because central administration requires the crossing of another sovereign state's border. Crossing enclave borders carries the same legal implications as crossing the official border. State services (legal, security, utilities) stop at their borders. The enclaves and their residents are, effectively, "stateless" people and places. Nonetheless, they are, simultaneously, very much parts of their "home" states. Further, the enclaves play an ambiguous role in both the historical and contemporary relationship between India and Bangladesh, a relationship marked by disputes over both territory and border crossing. These paradoxical spaces, then, are places where contestations over citizenship, as a relation of inclusion and exclusion, nationality, and territory are especially suggestive. In this study, I ask two linked questions: First, how have debates over enclaves along the India-Bangladesh border shaped understandings of territory, nation, and citizenship in India and Bangladesh? Second, how are these understandings reworked within enclaves facing complicated border and institutional configurations? I propose answering these questions through a combination of archival and ethnographic research to understand the mutually constitutive relationship between enclaves and their home and bounding states. This dissertation project will engage recent debates within the social sciences on the changing relationship between states and space and the link between margins and centers.