Authors: M.Satish Kumar*, Queens University Belfast
Topics: Asia, Development, Indigenous Peoples
Keywords: North East India, territoriality, sovereignty progress, geo-body and tribals
Session Type: Paper
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Virginia A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
This paper considers and charts the emergence of the territorial identity of the people of North East India through colonial to the post-colonial times. The paper seeks to understand why the region came to occupy a subordinate space in this period.
The first part of the paper provides an overview of the key challenges posed by the state and the market in coming to terms with the North Eastern Indian region. Here the relations between the ‘tribes’ and ‘non-tribal’ population have been conceptualised in terms of ethnicity, race or indigeneity. Recognising territorial legitimacy and sovereignty has become a highly contentious question in this region. The next part presents ‘progress as an ideational reality’, by embedding discussions in the context of North Eastern India, and engaging with James Scott’s notion of Zomia. Exemplars are drawn from progress reports of the region, and the key challenges faced by inhabitants in these marginalised spaces. ‘Progress’ has emerged as an affliction for the tribals in India. The final sections seeks to highlight the geo-body of postcolonial progress in North East India, the historiography of ‘protectionism’, which resulted in their insularity, and the emergence of an idea of ‘Crown Colony Plan’. Delinking or ‘spatial closure’ from national developmental plans and sovereignty is not viable for the region endowed with major resources, but suffers from endemic inequities.