“Ecologic” Border and Deterritorialisation

  • Biswajit Mohanty


The border represents the transitional zone of demarcation where places and nations begin and end. Prominence of the eternal truth coexists with the fuzziness of cultures and nature. Border studies have not taken into account the ecological content of the border that enables the fuzziness to give its content. This chapter attempts to reframe the idea of border by bringing in the ecological dimension and critiques both the Westphalian Border perspective and Empire Logic of Border. The border formation is a complex process that does not always involve sovereign. People themselves construct boundaries around them and within selves. In this connection, border is conceptualised as “ecologic” border (bhitamati in vernacular language) as a lived, rather than a constructed place dominated by power relations, that involves a complex interaction of social and environmental milieu of material and cultural life. Examining the lived experiences of the Munda tribe of Kalinganagar, the chapter further argues that border is not always a political artifice constructed to segregate, classify and control people, rather it is a social fact of life embedded within selves and collective memory of a community. The “memorate knowledge” – an assortment of social and symbolic goods – associated with the ecologic border embeds affective memories to place and the environment surrounding it. Increasing industrialisation after the initialisation of the process of globalisation has structurally ruptured the organic link of self with environment by displacing the community from its everyday borderlands. The tribes got deterritorialised from the embedded place, at times through voluntary movement and other times by forceful eviction, into a new “culturescape” where the erstwhile labouring population became part of the footloose labour and of the “lower class sector” of the new political economy evolving here.


Borders Ecology State Boundaries Sovereignty 


  1. Agnew, J. (1994, Spring). The territorial trap: The geographical assumptions of international relations theory. Review of International Political Economy, 1(1), 53–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agnew, J. (1987). Place and politics: the geographical mediatioin of state and society. Boston: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  3. Agnew, J. (2008). Borders on the mind: Re-framing border thinking. Ethics & Global Politics, 1(4), 175–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Appadurai, A. (2003). Sovereignty without territoriality: Notes for a postnational geography. In S. M. Low & D. Lawrence-zuniga (Eds.), The anthropology of space and place: Locating culture (pp. 337–349). Malden/Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  5. Bachelard, G. (1994). The poetics of space. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  6. Barth, F. (2000). Boundaries and connections. In A. P. Cohen (Ed.), Signifying identities. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Basso, K. H. (Ed.). (1996). Wisdom sits in places: Landscape and language among the Western Apache. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.Google Scholar
  8. Brighenti, A. (2007). On territory as relationship and law as territory. Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 21(2) pp. 65–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brighenti, A. (2010). Lines, barred lines: Movement, territory and the law. International Journal of Law in Context, 6(3), 217–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Byrne, J. A., (2010). Biophilia, Accessed on 13-5-2018, 4.30 p.m.
  11. Chakravarti, A., & Dhar, A. (2009). Dislocation and resettlement in development: From third world to the world of the third. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cresswell, T. (2004). Place: A short introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publications.Google Scholar
  13. Cronon, W. (2003). Changes in the land: Indians, colonists, and the ecology of New England. New York: Hill and Wang.Google Scholar
  14. Cunningham, H. (2012). Permeabilities, ecology and geopolitical boundaries. In T. M. Wilson & H. Donan (Eds.), A companion to border studies (pp. 371–386). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Elden, S. (2010). Land, territory and terrain. Progress in Human Geography, 34(6), 799–817.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Elden, S. (2013). The significance of territory. Geographica Helvetica, 68, 65–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fall, J. J. (2011). Natural resources and transnational governance. In D. Wastl-Walter (Ed.), The Ashgate research companion to border studies (pp. 628–641). Farham/Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  18. Ferreira, S. L. A. (2011). One decade of transfrontier conservation areas in southern Africa. In D. Wastl-Walter (Ed.), The Ashgate research companion to border studies (pp. 643–663). Farham and Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  19. Gibson, J. J. (1986). The ecological approach to the visual perception. Madison: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gottmann, J. (1973). The significance of territory. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.Google Scholar
  21. Gray, J. (2003). Open spaces and dwelling places: Being at home on hill farms in the Scottish borders. In S. M. Low & D. Lawrence-zuniga (Eds.), The anthropology of space and place: Locating culture (pp. 224–244). Malden/Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  22. Green, S. (2012). A sense of border. In T. M. Wilson & H. Donnan (Eds.), A companion to border studies (pp. 573–592). Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gunderson, R. (2014). Erich Fromm’s ecological messianism: The first biophilia hypothesis as humanistic social theory. Humanity & Society, 38(2), 182–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gupta, A., & Ferguson, J. (1997). Culture, power, place: Exploration in critical anthropology. Durham/London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Heidegger, M. (1993). Building, dwelling, thinking.
  26. Hodder, I. (2012). Entanglement: An archaeology of the relationships between humans and things. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ingold, T. (2000). The perception of the environment: Essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Jackson, J. B. (1987). The word itself. Discovering the Vernacular Landscape, 13 Accessed on 21.11.2017.
  29. Jones, R., & Johnson, K. (2014). Placing border in everyday life. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Kirwan, P. (1999). The emergent land: Nature and ecology in native American expressive forms, 83–92 and
  31. Lucas, C. P. (1914). Man as a geographical agency. The Geographical Journal, 44(5), 477–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McIntosh, A. (2010) Roots, belonging and place. Accessed on 7.3.2018.
  33. Milton, K. (2002). Loving nature: Towards an ecology of emotion. London/New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mohanty, B. (2016). Recounting double exception in Kalinganagar. International Journal for Migration and Border Studies, 2(2), 149–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Newman, D. (2003). On borders and power: A theoretical framework. Journal of Borderlands Studies, 18(1), 13–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Newman, D. (2003a). Boundary. In J. A. K. Mitchell & G. Toal (Eds.), A companion to political geography. Hoboken: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  37. Norberg-Schulz, C. (1971). Existence, space and architecture. New York/Washington, DC: Praeger.Google Scholar
  38. Paasi, A. (1998). Boundaries as social processes: Territoriality in the world of flows. Geopolitics, 3(1), 69–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Perkins, C., Cooper, A., & Rumford, P. C. (2014). The vernacularization of borders. In R. Jones & C. Johnson (Eds.), Placing the border in everyday life (pp. 15–32). Farnham: Ashgate Publishing.Google Scholar
  40. Relhp, E. (1976). Place and placelessness. London: Pion Publication.Google Scholar
  41. Ruby, T. (2006). Who am I and where do I belong? Sites of struggle in crafting and negotiating female Muslim identities in Canada. In W. Schissel (Ed.), Geographies of self, place and space: home/bodies. Canada: University of Calgary Press.Google Scholar
  42. Sack, R. D. (1986). Territoriality: Theory and history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Sahlins, P. (1989). Boundaries: The making of France and Spain in the Pyrenees. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  44. Sassen, S. (2013). When territory deborders territoriality. Territory, Politics and Governance, 1(1), 21–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sauer, C. J. (1960). On past and present American culture. In W. M. Denevan & K. Mathewson (Eds.), Carl Saurer on culture and landscape: Reading and commentaries, (2009) (pp. 390–391). Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Schofield, C. (2011). The delimitation of maritime boundaries: An incomplete mosaic. In D. Wastl-Walter (Ed.), The Ashgate research companion to border studies (pp. 665–681). Farham/Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  47. Silko, L. M. (1986 Autumn). Landscape, history, and the Pueblo imagination. Antaeus, 57, 882–894.Google Scholar
  48. Sohn, C. (2015). On Borders’ multiplicity: A perspective from assemblage theory. Working paper, EUBORDERSCAPES, European Commission.Google Scholar
  49. Sun-young, R. (2003). Boundary and sense of place in traditional Korean dwelling. Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies, 3(2), 62–79.Google Scholar
  50. Tagliacozzo, E. (2015). Jagged landscapes: Conceptualising borders and boundaries in the history of human societies. Journal of Borderland Studies, 31(1), 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tilley, C., & Cameron-Daum, K. (2017). The anthropology of landscape: Materiality, embodiment, contestation and emotion.
  52. Tuan, Y.-F. (1974). Space and place: Perspective on experience. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  53. van Houtum, H. (2011). The mask of the border. In D. Wastl-Walter (Ed.), The Ashgate research companion to border studies (pp. 49–61). Farham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  54. Wilson, E. O. (1993). Biophilia and the conservation ethic. In S. R. Kellert & E. O. Wilson (Eds.), The biophilia hypothesis (pp. 31–41). Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  55. Wilson, P. J. (1988). The domestication of human species. New Haven/London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Wise, J. M. (2000). Home: Territory and identity. Cultural Studies, 14(2), 295–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wylie, J. (2007). Landscape. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  58. Zhurzhenko, T. (2011). Border and memory. In D. WAstl-Walter (Ed.), Companion to border studies (pp. 63–83). Farnham: Ashgate Publishing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Biswajit Mohanty
    • 1
  1. 1.Deshbandhu CollegeUniversity of DelhiNew DelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations