Description

Sensitive Space

Fragmented Territory at the India-Bangladesh Border

Jason Cons

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  • Published: April 2016
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / South Asia; Anthropology; Politics
  • Bibliographic information: 224 pp., 9 illus., 2 maps, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Global South Asia
  • Contents

Enclaves along the India-Bangladesh border have posed conceptual and pragmatic challenges to both states since Partition in 1947. These pieces of India inside of Bangladesh, and vice versa, are spaces in which national security, belonging, and control are shown in sharp relief. Through ethnographic and historical analysis, Jason Cons argues that these spaces are key locations for rethinking the production of territory in South Asia today. Sensitive Space examines the ways that these areas mark a range of anxieties over territory, land, and national survival and lead us to consider why certain places emerge as contentious, and often violent, spaces at the margins of nation and state.

Offering lessons for the study of enclaves, lines of control, restricted areas, gray spaces, and other geographic anomalies, Sensitive Space develops frameworks for understanding the persistent confusions of land, community, and belonging in border zones. It further provides ways to think past the categories of sovereignty and identity to reimagine territory in South Asia and beyond.
Jason Cons is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin.

"A solid, in-depth study of a strange border region, what such a sensitive space does to the people living there, and the manner in which this region has become part of the national psyche of both India and Bangladesh."
-Arild Engelsen Ruud, author of Poetics of Village Politics: The Making of West Bengal's Rural Communism

"Sensitive Space deals with compelling and unusual empirical material, and the author situates this in relation to broader academic debates, particularly related to nation, state, and territory."
-Johan Lindquist, author of The Anxieties of Mobility: Development and Migration in the Indonesian Borderlands

"Jason Cons illuminates the fraught politics behind one of the longest and strangest territorial disputes in history. An original, insightful, and remarkable book that is destined to become the definitive statement on the subject."
-Reece Jones, author of The Violence of Borders: How States Keep People Out

Reviews

"A distinctive and imaginative account of the peculiar and often mystified enclaves or 'fragmented territories' on the border between India and Bangladesh. . . . Cons offers a rich and nuanced ethnography of multiple dimensions of everyday struggles, contestations, and opportunities in Dahagram. . . . Sensitive Space opens new conceptual avenues for analyses on the Indo-Bangladeshi border as well as border studies more generally."
-Prithvi Hirani, Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography