Advertisement

Borders, Citizenship and the Subaltern in South Asia

  • Nergis Canefe
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter will argue that borders consist of an overlapping and changeable set of boundaries with different and often contradictory functions, histories, meanings and roles. Furthermore, not only that they are the outcome of ‘bordering processes’ with social, economic and political underpinnings, they have to be permanently aligned, reproduced and justified while maintaining the simulacrum of fixity and stability. In Van Houtum’s words, borders are a ‘fabricated truth’ (Van Houtum, The mask of the border. In: Wastl-Walter D (ed). The Ashgate research companion to border studies. Ashgate, Farnham, 2011: 49). Their lived experience and the limits of their containment function are best observed in the way they define, undefined and redefine citizenship and belonging.

In the following pages, I will posit that shifting our emphasis from borders to relational geographies is the first step towards undoing the pre-existing ‘containment thinking’ that historically framed debates on citizenship. Whereas a certain degree of legal-political verity is required when addressing issues of sovereignty, the spaces of class, identity, ethnicity and in general alterity transcend the border. This is not a matter of transforming ‘thick borders’ into ‘thin borders’ with a magical sleight of hand but an invitation to expand the horizon of our understanding to an intertwined network of critical practices. Examining power practices within the bordering process itself and underlining the relational geographies demarcated by different types of boundaries illustrate why transborder activities could not be addressed only with reference to the geopolitical dimensions of the border. In this commentary, I will also argue for the relevance and importance of post-colonial theory to the study of not just migration and mobility but border maintenance and surveillance. Specifically, I suggest three possible interventions in this regard: stretching the boundaries of the spaces that encompass the post-colonial state, paying closer attention to the spatial connections forged between seemingly disparate places through migration and transborder activities and challenging hierarchical notions of identity and/or place in terms of effected populations’ citizenship status.

Keywords

Post-colonialism State Subaltern South Asia Citizenship Borders 

Bibliography

  1. Agamben, G. (2005). State of exception. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. Agnew, J. (2003). Geopolitics: Re-visioning the world politics (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Agnew, J. (2008). Borders on the mind: Reframing border thinking. Ethics and Global Politics, 1(4), 175–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Amin, S. (1985). Delinking. Towards a polycentric world (M. Wolfers, Trans.). London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  5. Bhabha, H. (1994). The location of culture. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Bhambra, G. K. (2007). Rethinking modernity: Postcolonialism and the sociological imagination. Basingstoke: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Biggs, M. (1999). Putting the state on the map: Cartography, territory, and European state formation. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 41, 374–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bose, S., & Jalal, A. (2002). Modern South Asia: History, culture, political economy. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Buchanan, A., & Moore, M. (Eds.). (2008). States, nations, and borders: The ethics of making boundaries. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Canefe, N. (1998). Sovereign Utopias. PhD Thesis, Social and Political Thought. Toronto: York University.Google Scholar
  11. Chakrabarty, D. (2000). Provincializing Europe. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Chibber, V. (2013). Post-colonial theory and the specter of capital. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  13. Cons, J., & Sanyal, R. (2013). Geographies at the margins: Borders in South-Asia. Political Geography, 35, 5–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Crowley, J. (2005). Where does the state actually start? The contemporary governance of work and migration. In D. Bigo & E. Guild (Eds.), Controlling frontiers: Free movement into and within Europe. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  15. de Sousa Santos, B. (Ed.). (2007). Another knowledge is possible: Beyond Northern epistemologies. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  16. Delanty, G. (Ed.). (2007). Europe and Asia beyond East and West: Towards a new cosmopolitanism. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Desai, A. (2011). The artist of disappearance. Mariner Books.Google Scholar
  18. Desai, G., & Nair, S. (Eds.). (2005). Postcolonialisms: An anthology of cultural theory and criticism. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Diener, A. C., & Hagen, J. (2012). Borders. A very short introduction. Oxford\New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dirlik, A. (1994). The postcolonial aura: Third world criticism in the age of global capitalism. Critical Inquiry, 20, 328–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dussel, E. (1995). Eurocentrism and modernity (Introduction to the Frankfurt Lectures). In J. Beverley et al. (Eds.), The postmodernism debate in Latin America (pp. 65–77). Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Dussel, E. (2000). Europe, modernity and eurocentrism. Nepantla. Views from South, 1(3), 465–478.Google Scholar
  23. Escobar, A. (2004). Beyond the Third World: Imperial globality, global coloniality, and anti-globalization social movements. Third World Quarterly, 25(1), 207–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Harley, J. B. (1989). Deconstructing the Map. Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization, 26(2), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kostakopoulou, D. (2006). Thick, thin and thinner patriotisms: Is this all there is? Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 26, 73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Krishna, S. (1994). Cartographic anxiety: Mapping the body politic in India. Alternatives, 19, 507–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Laclau, E. (2000). Emancipation(s). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Loomba, A. (2005). Colonialism/Postcolonialism. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Lugones, M. (2011). Toward a decolonial feminism. Hypatia, 25(4), 742–759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mann, M. (1984). The autonomous power of the state: Its origins, mechanisms and results. European Journal of Sociology, 25, 185–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. McClintock, A. (1992). The angel of progress: Pitfalls of the term ‘post-colonialism’. Social Text, 31/32, 84–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mignolo, W. (2000a). The geopolitics of knowledge and the colonial difference. South Atlantic Quarterly, 101(1), 57–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mignolo, W. D. (2000b). Local histories/global designs: Coloniality, subaltern knowledges and border thinking. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Mignolo, W. (2007). Delinking: The rhetoric of modernity, the logic of coloniality and the grammar of de-coloniality. Cultural Studies, 21(2), 449–514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Näsström, S. (2004). What globalization overshadows. Political Theory, 31, 818.Google Scholar
  36. Neocleous, M. (2003). Off the map: On violence and cartography. European Journal of Social Theory, 6, 409–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Newman, D. (2003). On borders and power: A theoretical framework. Journal of Borderlands Studies, 18, 13–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Newman, D. (2006). The lines that continue to separate us: Borders in our ‘borderless’ world. Progress in Human Geography, 30, 143–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Nine, C. (2008). The moral arbitrariness of borders: Against Beitz. Contemporary Political Theory, 7, 259–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ong, A. (2008). Neoliberalism as exception: Mutations in citizenship and sovereignty. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Paasi, A. (2005). The changing discourses on political boundaries. Mapping the backgrounds, contexts and contents. In H. van Houtum, O. Kramsch, & W. Zierhofer (Eds.), B/Ordering space (pp. 17–31). Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  42. Pandey, G. (2008). Subaltern citizens and their histories. Interventions, 10(3), 271–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Popescu, G. (2012). Bordering and ordering the twenty-first century. Understanding borders. Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  44. Prakash, G. (2000). The impossibility of subaltern history. Nepantla: Views from South, 1(2), 287–293.Google Scholar
  45. Quijano, A. (2007). Coloniality and modernity/rationality. Cultural Studies, 21(2), 168–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Roy, K., & Gates, S. (2017). Limited war in South Asia: From decolonization to recent times. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  47. Said, E. (1995). Orientalism: Western conceptions of the Orient. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  48. Saldanha, A. (2008). Heterotopia and structuralism. Environment and Planning A, 40, 2080–2096.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Samaddar, R. (2017). The politics of dialogue. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  50. Schmitt, C. (1985). The end of law. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  51. Shohat, E. (1992). Notes on the postcolonial. Social Text, 31/32, 99–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sinha, S., & Varma, R. (2017). Marxism and post-colonial theory: What’s left of the debate. Race and Class, 43, 545–558.Google Scholar
  53. Spivak, G. C. (1988a). Can the subaltern speak? In C. Nelson & L. Grossberg (Eds.), Marxism and the interpretation of culture. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  54. Spivak, G. C. (1988b). In other worlds. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  55. Spivak, G. C. (1990). Post-structuralism, marginality, postcoloniality and value. In P. Collier & H. Geyer-Ryan (Eds.), Literary theory today. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  56. Spivak, G. C. (1999). Critique of postcolonial reason: Toward a history of the vanishing present. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Sunder Rajan, R. (2010). Death and the subaltern. In R. Morris (Ed.), Can the subaltern speak? Reflections on the history of an idea. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Taylor, P. J., & Flint, C. (2007). Political geography: World economy, nation-state and locality. Harlow: Pearson.Google Scholar
  59. Van Houtum, H. (2011). The mask of the border. In D. Wastl-Walter (Ed.), The Ashgate research companion to border studies (pp. 49–61). Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  60. Walters, W. (2006). Rethinking borders beyond the state. Comparative European Politics, 4, 141–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Warschawski, M. (2005). On the border (p. xviii). Cambridge, MA: South End Press.Google Scholar
  62. Wastl-Walter, D. (Ed.). (2011). The Ashgate research companion to border studies. Farnham Surrey: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  63. Wilson, T. M., & Donnan, H. (2012). Borders and border studies. In T. M. Wilson & H. Donnan (Eds.), A companion to border studies (pp. 1–25). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell (Blackwell Companions to Anthropology).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Zizek, S. (2004). The topology of being and the geopolitics of knowledge. Modernity, empire, coloniality. City, 8(1), 29–56.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nergis Canefe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PoliticsYork UniversityTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations