This book discusses the politics of space and identity in the borderlands of northeastern India between the early 1800s and the 1930s. Critiquing contemporary post-colonial histories where this region emerges as fragments, this book sees these perspectives as continuing to be entrapped in a civilizational approach to history writing. Beginning in the pre-colonial period where it focuses on the negotiated character of state-formation during the Mughal imperium, the book then enters the space of the colonial where it looks at some of the early interventions of the East India Company. The analysis of markets as transmitters of authority highlights an important argument that the book makes. Peasantization and the introduction of the notion of the sedentary agriculturist as the productive subject also come up for a detailed discussion, along with economic change and property settlements, which are seen as important ways through which the institution of colonial legality got entrenched in the region.
Underlining the interface between the political economy and practices of cultural studies, the book also explores the connections between speech, production of counter narratives of historical memory, political culture and economy, with a focus on the cultural production of a borderland identity that was marked by hyphenated existence between proto- 'Bengal' and proto- 'Assam'.
The uniquely diverse landscapes, societies and cultures of northeastern India, forged through complex bio-geographic and socio-political forces, are now facing rapid transition. This series focuses on the processes and practices that have shaped, and are shaping, the peoples’ identities, outlook, institutions, and economy. Eschewing the homogenising term ‘North East’, which was imposed on the region in a particular political context half a century ago, the series title refers to the ‘northeastern’ region to more accurately reflect its heterogeneity. Seeking to explore how the ‘mainstream’ and the ‘margins’ impact each other, the series foregrounds both historical and contemporary research on the region including the Eastern Himalaya, the adjoining hills and valleys, the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. It publishes original, reflective studies that draw upon different disciplines and approaches, and combine empirical and theoretical insights to make scholarship accessible for general readers and to help deepen the understanding of academics, policy-makers and practitioners.