1st Edition

Yunnan–Burma–Bengal Corridor Geographies
Protean Edging of Habitats and Empires

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after September 30, 2021
ISBN 9780367556228
September 30, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge India
304 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

USD $44.95

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Book Description

This volume explores the historical interconnections between Bengal, Burma and Yunnan (China) and views the corridor as a transregion that exhibits mobility, connectivity and diversity as well as place-based ecogeological uniqueness. With a focus on the concept of corridor geographies that have shared human and environmental histories beyond sharply demarcated territorial sovereignties of modern individual nation-states, it presents the variety and complexity of premodern and modern pathways, corridors, borders, and networks of livelihood-making, local political alliances, trade and commerce, religions, political systems, and colonial encounters. The book discusses crucial themes including environmental edgings of human-nonhuman habitats; transregional migratory routes and habitats of megafauna; elephant corridors in Yunnan–Myanmar–Bengal landscape; framing spaces between India and China; Tibetan–Myanmar corridors; transboundary river systems; narratives of a Rohingya jade trader; cross-border flow of De’ang’s fermented tea; householding in upland Laos; cultural identities; and trans-border livelihoods.    

Comprehensive and topical, with its wide-ranging case studies, this book will be of interest to scholars and researchers of history, routes and border studies, sociology and social anthropology, South East Asian history, South Asian history, Chinese studies, environmental history, human geography, international relations, ecology and cultural studies.

Table of Contents

Perpendicular Geospatiality of Corridors and Borderlands: An Introduction

Dan Smyer Yü



1. Framing Spaces between India and China

Willem van Schendel

2. Environmental Edging of Empires, Chiefdoms and States: Corridors as Transregions

Dan Smyer Yü

3. A Conceptualization of Tibetan–Myanmar Corridors

Guo Jianbin and Yang Liquan



4. Understanding Borderlands through Elephant Corridors in the Yunnan–Myanmar–Bengal Landscape

Ambika Aiyadurai and Sayan Banerjee

5. Rivers of Mobility: Multi-ethnic Societies and Ecological Commons in a Fluvial Asia

Iftekhar Iqbal

6. Borderlines, Livelihood and Ethnicity in the Yunnan–Myanmar Borderlands: A Rohingya Jade Trader’s Narratives

Henrik Kloppenborg Møller



7. Ethnonationalism in Northeast India: A Case Study of the Ban on Hindi Movies and Songs in Manipur

Malem Ningthouja (N.M. Meetei)

8. Constructing Native Chieftains as Imperial Frontier Institution: Endogamy and Dowry Land Exchange among the Shan-Dai Chieftains in Yunnan–Burma Borderland since the Thirteenth Century

Jianxiong Ma

9. Beyond Taste: The Flow of De’ang’s Fermented Tea in Yunnan–Myanmar Borderlands

Quanmin Li

10. Leaving the Mountain: Wage Laborers and Gendered Yearnings in a Northwest Lao Border Town

Yunxia Li


Conclusion: Corridor Geographies

Karin Dean

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Dan Smyer Yü is Kuige Professor of Ethnology, School of Ethnology and Sociology and the National Centre for Borderlands Ethnic Studies in Southwest China at Yunnan University, China. He specializes in religion and ecology, environmental humanities, trans-Himalayan studies, sacred landscapes, and modern Tibetan studies. He currently serves as a member of the Advisory Group of Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology and an elected board member of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. He is the author of Mindscaping the Landscape of Tibet: Place, Memorability, Eco-aesthetics (De Gruyter 2015), and the co-editor of Environmental Humanities in the New Himalayas: Symbiotic Indigeneity, Commoning, Sustainability (Routledge 2021).

Karin Dean is a senior researcher at the School of Humanities, Tallinn University, Estonia, and the Head of its Asian Studies academic field. Trained as a political geographer at the National University of Singapore, her research interests include boundaries, borderlands, practices of b/ordering, power topologies, and more recently, the spatial effects of large-scale infrastructure development in Yunnan and northeast India. She has worked in conflict resolution and conducted extensive academic fieldwork at most Myanmar’s borderlands, and published in multiple journals and books, including in Political Geography, Eurasian Geography and Economics, Surveillance and Society, Ashgate Research Companion to Border Studies, and Routledge Handbook on Asian Borderlands.


'The unbroken yet dramatic ecologies and histories of the lands from the Brahmaputra to the Mekong, long disintegrated in academic research, is finding a new field today. Yunnan–Burma–Bengal Corridor Geographies is a valuable contribution which brings trans-Himalayan studies and borderland studies into conversation. It is a must for anyone interested in the long-term transitions, human-nonhuman interconnections, and acute borderland politics of the region.'

Gunnel Cederlöf, Professor of History, Department of Cultural Sciences and Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Linnaeus University, Sweden


'This highly original and challenging collection of essays on the "corridor geographies" connecting southwest China, northern southeast Asia, the Bangladesh borderlands, and northeast India, is essential reading for anyone who wishes to consider how human diversity, biodiversity, and ecological history intersect over time and space. The variety of the case studies, each exploring different patterns of transregional connectivity in human and more than human contexts, will pay immense rewards for scholars and students who seek a rich intellectual engagement with the concept of bordered connectivity that "corridor geographies" provides.'

Mandy Sadan, Associate Professor of Global Sustainable Development, University of Warwick, UK


'This book contributes richly to building bridges between conceptions of areas, countries and even broad Asian subregions, that are not normally thought to have much in common. The beauty of its approach is, in my view, to take example on diverse and often neglected upland societies in this particular corridor, who are themselves transnational and do cross borders as a matter of routine. For most, they were already occupying that space before the very advent of the said borders. In this way, and beyond the flawed gaze of the Nation-State, past and present meet again.'

Jean Michaud, Professor of Anthropology, Université Laval, Canada