This project analyses the impacts of shifting dynamics of transnationalism on different communities in Northeast India. This project analyses transnationalism emanating from both the state and non-state actors. For the state, the reorientation of India’s economic and political relationships with its eastward neighbours towards cooperation and integration has recast Northeast India as a transnational corridor that will link the Indian economy with Southeast Asia, China, and more deeply integrate Bangladesh and Bhutan with Northeast India. Despite the effusive rhetoric around the opening of the Northeast the security establishment in India has deep reservations about increasing trans-border movement in a region where insurgency and counterinsurgency has dominated the period since Indian Independence. This has led to very contradictory dynamics. Measures designed to open up the region are countered with measures to heavily control the very same process.

For non-state actors transnational linkages through activism, media, art, culture, and religious institutions are creating new networks and strengthening old ones. Some of these networks bypass the channels being established by the state, while others operate along these same channels. Interestingly, many of these networks are being established between communities in the Northeast and East and Southeast Asia, often unwittingly replicating the desires of the Indian state for a greater presence eastwards, but through far more spontaneous and localised initiatives. In short, while the Indian state debates and dallies over how to link better with East and Southeast Asia, many communities, individuals, and organisations in the Northeast are forming linkages autonomously.

This project is concerned with the experiences of these dynamics ‘on the ground’ in the Northeast borderland and the politics these experiences produce and reproduce.