This book explores contesting identities, international politics, migration and democratic practices in the context of globalizing India. Drawing on extensive ethnographic research, it looks at one of the oldest migratory routes across a volatile region in eastern India which is fraught with violent claims of separate statehood.
The book offers an account of how the ‘North Bengal’ region has acted as a gateway to migrant populations over time and points to why it must be understood as a shifting and liminal space through a study of Bodoland, Gorkhaland, Kamatapuri, Siliguri and the Greater Cooch Behar movements. It shows the region’s politics of identity or quest for homeland not as a means of compensating for the lack or absence of identity, but as an everyday practice of living that very absence, across borders and boundaries, without arriving at any definitive and stable identity, along with impacts and manifestations in democratic political processes.
A major intervention in modern political theory – shedding new light on concepts such as home and homeland, space and self, sovereignty, nation-state, freedom and democracy – this book will be of interest to scholars and researchers of political science, modern South Asian history, sociology and social anthropology, and migration and diaspora studies.
Table of Contents
Preface. Abbreviations. Introduction I. Transit Spaces 1. The Violent Gateway 2. The Moving City II. Unsettling Identities 3. Dangerous Journey to Citizenship 4. Living the ‘Absence’ III. Democratic Practices 5. Home, Homeland and Politics of the Unhomely 6. Democracy’s Unusual Sites. Glossary. Index
Samir Kumar Das is Professor of Political Science, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, West Bengal, India. Previously, he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of North Bengal, West Bengal; Visiting Professor at Universite Paris 13 and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; and Adjunct Professor of Government at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. He specializes in and writes on issues of ethnicity, migration, rights and democracy. Some of his prominent publications include India: Democracy and Violence (2015, edited); Governing India’s Northeast: Essays on Insurgency, Development and the Culture of Peace (2013); ICSSR Surveys and Explorations: Political Science: Volume I: Indian State (2013, edited); Conflict and Peace in India’s Northeast: The Role of Civil Society (2006); and Blisters on Their Feet: Tales of Internally Displaced Persons in India’s North East (2008, edited).