Since the mid-20th century, the India-Myanmar border-zone has been portrayed as ‘remote’, and thus a place where insurgencies and illicit economies and ecological resource extraction could thrive. Here, states and their rivals have selectively both claimed and denied recognition of sovereignty through various degrees of coercion and material collaboration with local populations and each other. This dynamic continues to operate even in the present day. The proposed project investigates how discourses of security and development resulting from external wars (WWII, Sino-Indian conflict 1962) and trans-border armed insurgencies together shape states and borders - with the paradoxical finding that selective infrastructural connectivity and performances of sovereignty have actually made these areas more isolated. This is contrary to expectations that post-WWII ‘distance-demolishing’ technologies and infrastructure concomitant with ‘expansion’ of states would keep these spaces integrated with global networks of capital and connectivity. The research reveals how some places disintegrate into ‘blank spaces’ as a result of selective policies despite a history of being globally interconnected.

Aditya is an Early-Postdoctoral Mobility Fellow, granted by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) in University of Amsterdam and School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, and an associate research fellow at IIAS.