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Life, the Law and the Politics of Abandonment: Everyday Geographies of the Enclaves in India and Bangladesh

SHEWLY, HOSNA,JAHAN (2012) Life, the Law and the Politics of Abandonment: Everyday Geographies of the Enclaves in India and Bangladesh. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This PhD strives to understand what roles politico-spatial-legality play in shaping everyday life in the enclaves located in the northwest borderland curve in the India-Bangladesh border. Conceptually and legally, an enclave is a fragmented territory of one sovereign power located inside another sovereign territory. Following the decolonisation process in 1947, both India and Pakistan/Bangladesh inherited more than 200 enclaves. By investigating an everyday geography of the politico-spatial-legality in Indian and Bangladeshi enclaves, the aim of this thesis is to understand how the long existence of these enclaves shape their residents’ everyday lives. This thesis examines four research questions – i) how do the politico-spatial-legal factors shape citizenship in the enclaves? ii) What role(s) do boundaries perform in everyday life in the enclaves? iii) What are the (il)legal-political vulnerabilities present in the enclaves? And iv) What are the (il)legal survival methods adopted by the enclave residents’?
The whole research is based on a seven-month ethnographic account in six enclaves and short visits (one day in each enclave) to another twenty enclaves during the pilot study in India and Bangladesh. The field sites were selected based on enclave size, distance from the border, practice of religion and relationship with the concerned states. The ethnography involved observing mundane events at different periods of time in different segments of the enclaves and nearby borderlands, and participating in local gathering in tea stalls, women’s evening socialisation and other social events. 55 in-depth interviews with the enclave residents and 10 interviews with the state officials were conducted for a detailed understanding of personal experiences and negotiations, and state perspectives on the enclave matter respectively.
The thesis reveals that the enclave residents live in a non citizenship status, and the border is experienced in myriad ways in the enclaves constituting politico-juridical, social and gendered forms of bare life. On the other hand, the enclave dwellers find ways of attempting to cope with such circumstances and try to survive and advance their life through the loopholes of the state-system. The approach adopted in this thesis to study enclaves through the framework of politico-spatial-legality interactions is expected to advance enclave research. In addition, the thesis contributes to the academic literatures on citizenship and abandonment, border, bare life and rhythms of survival tactics. At policy level, the thesis can help policy makers understand ground vulnerabilities and difficult lives in the enclaves as there is very little government work available on enclave life.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:enclave, India-Bangladesh, abandonment, citizenship, border
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:29 Nov 2012 12:15

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