Sovereign Overcompensation: (Re)making the border and citizens in the former enclaves of Bangladesh and India.

Authors: Md Azmeary Ferdoush*, University of Hawaii - Manoa
Topics: Political Geography, Legal Geography
Keywords: Borders, state, sovereign overcompensation, enclaves, Bangladesh, India.
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Virginia A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The former border enclaves of Bangladesh and India had existed for almost seventy years as de facto stateless spaces without any access to essential services such as health, education, and electricity. These small land archipelagoes were surrounded by the state to which they did not belong to, i.e., Indian enclaves were surrounded by Bangladesh and vice versa. Thus, scholars viewed them as excluded by the state but at the same time, being victims of occasional subject to state violence. In 2015, both Bangladesh and India exchanged their enclaves, merged them with state territories, and recognized the former enclave residents as state citizens. Drawing on the post-exchange experiences at the former border enclaves in Bangladesh, in this paper, I argue that the state proactively helps the newly accepted citizens to smooth their experiences of citizenship. However, such an active role of the state is limited to only the newly accepted citizens, while for the regular Bangladeshi citizens, accessing state services remain a daily struggle. Consequently, I view such an active role of the state as ‘sovereign overcompensation’ and argue that this serves three significant purposes to the state. Firstly, this is an effective strategy for making legible state spaces. Second, it allows the state to create a community of value. Finally, this enables creating a hyperreality of a caring nation.

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