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AFTER THE EXCHANGE: CITIZENSHIP AND TERRITORIALITY IN THE FORMER BANGLADESH-INDIA BORDER ENCLAVES

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Title:AFTER THE EXCHANGE: CITIZENSHIP AND TERRITORIALITY IN THE FORMER BANGLADESH-INDIA BORDER ENCLAVES
Authors:Ferdoush, Md Azmeary
Contributors:Jones, Reece (advisor)
Geography (department)
Keywords:Geography
Cultural anthropology
South Asian studies
borders
citizenship
show 4 moreenclaves
political geography
South Asia
state
show less
Date Issued:2019
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Abstract:This dissertation explores how the exchange of the Bangladesh-India enclaves in July 2015 affected the lives of the residents in terms of their experience with citizenship and their understanding of territory. After the partition of India in 1947, 198 border enclaves were created that were entirely surrounded by the other country’s territory i.e., Indian enclaves were situated inside Bangladesh and vice versa. Almost 55,000 people living in these enclaves were completely isolated from their respective nation-states and lived as de facto stateless populations for the last seven decades. During the exchange, the residents were given the option to choose their citizenship. Ninety-eight percent of the residents decided to stay in their homes and change their official citizenship, while the remaining two percent moved from Indian enclaves back to India proper to retain their Indian citizenship.
Drawing on the experiences of the former enclave residents in Bangladesh, the dissertation explores their choice of citizenship, whether the status of citizenship makes any difference in their lives, and the techniques of state-making and territoriality employed by the state of Bangladesh. The dissertation is based on a twelve months of ethnographic field research in the former enclaves and two months of archival research in Bangladesh. The ethnography involved (participant) observation, 89 in-depth interviews with different groups, and 6 focus group discussions with the former enclave residents.

The research finds that acts of belonging played a significant role in their choice of citizenship. As a result, an overwhelming majority decided to stay where they were and opted for a change in their citizenship. After the enclave residents were formally recognized as citizens, Bangladesh took numerous distinct measures to help smooth their transition as citizens. A process understood as sovereign overcompensation. However, it also reveals that such extraordinary measures stemmed not from a ‘sorry state’ but as a byproduct of state-making. The nature of citizenship created from such overcompensation is termed as showcase citizenship. Showcase citizenship is used by the state as a means to conceal the unequal treatment of its citizens and the structural violence fashioned by numerous state apparatuses.
The research views these former enclaves as symbolic spaces that surpassed their real economic and strategic value to gain an amplified status in nationalistic debates and rhetoric. Therefore, it took almost seven decades for Bangladesh and India to finally exchange them. Bangladesh employed numerous techniques of governmentality and territoriality, ranging from controlling the population to building physical infrastructure in order to bring these spaces under its legible control. Bangladesh also placed special attention to land formalization. Thus, the research reveals that land became flexible as the state and its citizens struggled over land ownership.
Pages/Duration:196 pages
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10125/66192
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Geography


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