Focusing on the geographies between the Mekong and the Indus, this book brings objects to the centre of enquiry in the understanding of modern Asian frontiers. It explores how a range of objects have historically been significant bearers and agents of frontier making. For instance, how are objects connected to aspects of state making, social change, everyday life, diplomacy, political and ecological worlds, capital, forms of violence, resistances, circulations, and aesthetic expressions?
This book seeks to interrogate and understand the dynamism of frontiers from the vantage point of objects such as salt, rubber, tea, guns, silk scarves, horses, and opium. It attempts to explore objects as sites of encounter, mediation, or dislocation between the social and the spatial. The book not only locates objects in the specificities of frontier spaces, but it also looks at how they are produced, circulated, and come to be intricately linked to a wide range of people, institutions, networks, and geographies. In the process, it explores how objects traverse and come to inhabit multiple historical, cultural, and geographical scales.
This book will be of interest to researchers and academics working in areas of history, social and cultural anthropology, Asian studies, frontiers and borderland studies, cultural studies, political and economic studies, and museum studies.
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
Notes on contributors
Introduction: objects of frontiers
LIPOKMAR DZÜVICHÜ AND MANJEET BARUAH
Part I: Commodities, resource frontiers, and state making
1 Trans-Indus salt: objects, resistance, and violence in the North-West Frontier of British India
2 ‘Objects’ of appropriations: locating material efficacies of rubber in the northeastern resource frontier of British India, 1810–1906
3 Tibetan materiality versus British ‘Ornamentalism’: diplomacy, objects, and resistance in the imperial archive EMMA MARTIN
Part II: Networks, things, and violence
4 From highlands to lowlands: the Pu‘er tea trading network and ethnic-group interactions in the frontier of Yunnan (1662–1796)
5 Embracing the black and white gold: the shift and continuity of the core objects in the tropical Yunnan borderlands
DIANA ZHIDAN DUAN
6 Guns, gifts, and guerrillas: knowledge and objects during World War II in the Indo–Myanmar (Burma) frontier
ADITYA KIRAN KAKATI
Part III: Regions, cultures, and connections
7 A spot of enlightenment: tea as a fuel for connectivity in Himalayan Buddhist cultures
KALZANG DORJEE BHUTIA and AMY HOLMES-TAGCHUNGDARPA
8 Objects in the border poetry of North East India and Southwest China
Afterword: the flow of objects at the political edges: a postscript
Lipokmar Dzüvichü is Assistant Professor at Special Centre for the Study of North East India, Jawaharlal Nehru University. His research work covers themes on frontiers and borderlands, transport, and labour history, including the history of commodities and circulation, in the nineteenth and early twentieth century North East Frontier of British India.
Manjeet Baruah is Assistant Professor at Special Centre for the Study of North East India, Jawaharlal Nehru University. His research areas include history of space and text, translation and borderland, and history and culture of colonial resource regimes in North East India. His published works include Frontier Cultures: A Social History of Assamese Literature (2012) and a work of translation, Remains of Spring: A Naga Village in the No Man’s Land (2016).