Borders in various parts of the world are major sources of disputes between states. The contested sites of borderlands are symbols and limits of territorial power. For India, some of the major border conflicts can be traced back to India’s partition in 1947 and Radcliffe’s arbitrary lines separating India and Pakistan. Border, here, is porous, artificial and even shifting in some places. Till recently, the existence of Chhitmahal (border enclaves) further complicated the Indo-Bangladesh borderland situation. India also shares a deeply contested border with China. Border disputes between India and Pakistan/Bangladesh and China have repercussions for not only the borderland residents, but also for religious and ethnic minorities of the subcontinent. Beyond South Asia intensely violent borders exist between U.S. and Mexico, Thailand and Cambodia, Congo and Angola – to name a few. Graves of Rohingya refugees have been discovered recently in Thailand borders. Border crossings within Europe can also be equally dangerous for different groups of people as the recent Syrian crisis has shown.
Borders, however, connect as much as they separate. Therefore, borderlands open up spaces for various types of movements – of people, commodities, animals. If violence is part of everyday lives of borderland people in various parts of the world, staying close to an international border can also create opportunities, economic and otherwise. Often, different worlds co-habit borderlands: one is that of police, security, metropolitan politicians and city people eager to ensure a neat and sealed border where the flows of goods and people are completely regulated; the other is the ‘world of subalternity’ where people have cross border personal and economic relations and is least concerned about the ‘cartographic anxiety’ of the state. Therefore, to study the world of the border, one has to focus on these varied worlds - the high intensity border conflicts and everyday violence, “legal” and “illegal” movements of people and things, policing and subversion techniques etc.
The international conference on Borders, Violence and Challenges to Identities invited scholars working on issues like making of international borders and border enclaves, violence in borders and borderlands, movements (of people, animal and commodities) across the borders, questions of gender, ethnicity, religion in borderland studies and policies of border “control” and their implications.
The workshop had the following panels:
1. Beyond South Asia
2. Bengal Borders
3. Disasters, Borders and the People (Organised by Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai)
4. Statelessness and Citizenship in South Asia
5. Frontiers of Northeast India
6. Of Spaces and Places: New Territorialities and Lived Histories
7. Borderlands and Environment
8. Locating Borders (Organised by MCRG)
9. Border Trade and Informal Economy
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