Sovereignty, Territory and Citizenship: SOUTH ASIA in an Age of Globalisation

Visiting lecturers from the Calcutta Research Group and the Punjab University, India

Place: University of Tampere, Linna building
Time: 7.9.2006 9:00 - 12.9.2006 14:00

Sovereignty, Territory and Citizenship: SOUTH ASIA in an Age of Globalisation

Professor Ranabir Samaddar/Dr. Sanjay Chaturvedi Thursday, 7 September to Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Credits: 2 ECTS

Times and places:

Thu 7.9. at 9-11 and 12-14 in Linna 5026

Fri 8.9. at 9-11 and 12-14 in Linna 6017

Mon 11.9. at 12-16 in Linna 6017

Tue 12.9. at 9-11 in Linna 5026 and at 12-14 in Linna 6017

Please note! There are two sets of the below mentioned reading materials in the ISSS office which students and borrow and copy for themselves.

South Asia as any other post-colonial region faces the realities of globalisation, some of which are within its control, but some, possibly a large part of these realities, are beyond the control of the countries of the region. How can India and other countries of this region face these realities, how are they faring, and what lies ahead of them in this world of globalisation? While globalisation seems to be the golden age of the economists for they are the chosen people asked to provide wisdom and insight on character of this phase of globalisation, consequences of this unheard degree of globalisation of capital, new information technologies, and the inexorable need for financial-economic-structural reforms for the countries to cope with globalisation and world trade regime and its rules, popular attention is less drawn on its political implications.

However, how South Asia will fare in this age of globalisation depends on the post-colonial countries' political capacity and political attributes too. And in a sense this is more or at least as significant as the economic question. But, clearly in this case, the traditional way of seeing politics need to be reviewed, and reframed - critically, in the light of comparative knowledge, and historically - to make sense of new global realities, and to attempt at understanding, how much of the so-called new global reality is "new"?

This series of lectures aims at providing precisely such a political understanding by re-examining three of the most classic attributes of politics in the light of South Asia's history and society, namely sovereignty, territory, and citizenship. Nothing could be more timeless than these three ideas and concepts, and nothing could be, as these lectures demonstrate, more contentious and relevant today than these three realities and the consequent knowledge. Critical thinking has provided genealogical insights into the histories of these three great political questions, whereby nations, peoples, countries, and states can be seen in a fresh light, global realities can be judged in a refreshing way, and most important, politics can answer the great question of our time, namely what will happen to democracy in this age of globalisation? It is an important question because not only the fortune of democracy is linked to these three issues, but also because they entangle the fate of millions and millions of people, involving besides other things, the second most populous country and the "largest democracy" (admittedly by a questionable yardstick) on earth.

This set of lectures (the other set on the same theme will take up the issue of territory exclusively) will attempt this critical review with the aid of four (4) lectures (of 2 hours each) devoted to four (4) sub-themes:


1.      Sovereignty in a historical frame

2.      Laws, colonial and post-colonial constitutionalism, citizenship, and rights

3.      Two subjects of the Sovereign: citizen and the alien

4.      Shared forms of sovereignty: autonomy and other concepts


Basically, as these sub-themes indicate, the series of lectures while speaking of the careers of sovereignty, territory, and citizenship, will not only discuss South Asia in the age of globalisation, it will take up centrally the question of the political subject. Does the political subject die with the onset of globalisation, and what has been termed as "end of history"? Or, will South Asia push ahead with new political practices?

Sovereignty, rule of law, citizenship, constitutionalism, popular theories of representation, governmental practices - all these and some more will come under scrutiny in these lectures which will try to suggest alternative ideas of politics as they emerge out of South Asian realities. In view of the supposed dissimilarities of the relevant situation in the metropole and the ex-colonies, it is fascinating to note the convergence of two histories today at least in some respects in the context of globalisation - European history and post-colonial reasoning; and it is in this background that the lectures will raise various relevant inquiries in terms of a new perspective of politics and the political subject.

The great promise of democracy is the unlimited horizon of citizenship, an unending expansion of political society not necessarily in area but in the scale of social quality. In other words, if we rework the democratic theory of citizenship, we can say that the historical mission of citizenship is on the whole fulfilled with the coming of democracy. Even if this is taken as true, what happens to the post-colonial political subject in this fantastic democratic destiny? Will she/he get a share, a seat? An expansion of democracy, yes - what does it hold for the political subject of our time and place, the subject who is not "unfortunately" yet the citizen, yet who sits at the heart of the problem of democracy? What happens to "our" possibilities of trans-national citizenship?

Another set of will critically examine the following four sub-themes with the aid of four (4) lectures (of two hours each).

1.      Sovereignty and the Challenge of Excessive Geopolitics: Lessons of Partition

2.      Clash of Geopolitical Visions: The Sacred and the Secular

3.      Making of South Asian Borders

4.      Quest for Environmental Justice: Rhetoric and Reality

One of the key arguments in this set of lectures is that various discourses of territory and territoriality in contemporary South Asia, and the practices that flow from them, are better understood and analyzed by combining post-partition perspectives with better known post-colonial perspectives. The post-partition world is governed by mystified ethno-national (and often ethno-religious) assertion for domination over "our" exclusive and `rightful' space. It is a territorialized world of endless contestation and struggles against new patterns of local (gender, religious and economic) control/domination enabled by the new geometry of power. The post-partition South Asia remain in a constant state of flux due to the near impossibility of most state actors to achieve legitimacy in the eyes of marginalized minorities, and because of ongoing interventions/intrusions by miniaturized identities below the mystified state level. The predominant singular-affiliation view insists that every one belongs to one group and one group only. Such a reductionism further promotes the illusion of unique identity, seriously impairs choice and reasoning and makes the South Asian world much more flammable. The post-partition perspective also compels us to look beyond the place and space of visible borders and bring under critical scrutiny the symbolic lines between neighbouring states and cultures, most often producing and representing `Otherness'. The final lecture in this set of lectures examines (a) environmental justice as part of social justice; (b) dominant spatialities and hierarchies articulated through mainstream notions and their critiques emerging from different geographies of resistance in various parts of South Asia; and (c) reconfiguration of space in the wake of Tsunamis and natural disasters and (d) impact on coastal communities.

Eveliina Permi
(03) 3551 7197