The State, Vulnerability, and Transborder Movements: The Rohingya People in Myanmar and Bangladesh

  • Nasir UddinEmail author


This chapter is about the plight of “stateless” people, not recognised as nationals by any state, albeit the state in various forms regulates their everyday life committing severe injustice and practicing various inequalities by producing illegibility in state structure. In fact, the structure of modern nation-state has produced the concept of statelessness and non-citizens though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) confirms that “everyone has the right to a nationality.” Since the state of statelessness confirms people belonging to no state, they cannot claim any rights from states though the International Refugee Convention (1951), the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless People (1954) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) confirm the rights of even non-citizens. Nonetheless, the lives of stateless people that include non-citizens, refugees or asylum seekers can easily become subject to injustice, inequality, discrimination and illegibility and is even subject to death. The treatment of stateless people as “illegal” human bodies is as what George Agamben termed “bare life”; a life is “bare” because it does not exist “before the law”. This chapter examines such a group of stateless people known as the Rohingya living in Myanmand and Bangladesh beneath the intricate relations of migration, statelessness and vulnerability.

The Rohingya people became stateless soon after Myanmar in 1982 enacted its Citizenship Law which conferred to 135 nationals as its citizens excluding the Rohingya. Since then many Rohingya people migrated to Bangladesh in large scale though the influx started from 1978. The Rohingya people in Bangladesh are now under “biometric” database officially termed as “forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals” but not even refugees due mainly to their state of statelessness as they do not belong to any state. In the framework of modern nation-state, the Rohingya people are non-existent human beings as they are in nowhere in the legal framework of both Bangladesh and Myanmar. However, the Rohingya people experience persecution, atrocities and everyday forms of discrimination committed by the state despite their stateless identity. With empirically informed analysis, this chapter explains how the vulnerability is (re)produced in the lives of refugees due to their statelessness when transborder movement has become the general features of twenty-first-century state system in the name of “global society.”


Transborder Rohingya Myanmar Bangladesh Statelessness Vulnerability 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of ChittagongChittagongBangladesh

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