Ethnic cleansing in Myanmar prompts a massive displacement of 700,000 Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh, radically re-configuring demography, ecology, and politics along the border. Chinas One-Belt-One-Road program prompts massive new infrastructure projects linking South Western China and Southeast Asia to Bangladesh and to India through the sensitive Northeast. The imperatives of preparing for climate change reconfigure the Sundarbans region, highlighting the disastrous consequences of imagining the forest as neatly divided by a border. Realities and perceptions of migration from Bangladesh into Assam lead to waves of violence and a resurgence of ethno-nationalist politics. Calls for self-governance in Darjeeling and a redrawing of the internal boundaries of West Bengal prompt state blockades and media blackouts. As these examples suggest, Eastern South Asias bordersinternal and externalare in a moment of tremendous flux. How do these separate issues articulate with one another? What kind of new connections, flows, and politics emerge through and around them? How do these headline grabbing issues mask other, more everyday strategies of border navigation? In what ways do these shifts interact with longstanding cultural, religious, and ethnic practices and linkages across borders? And what are the longer histories that animate contemporary challenges to these comparatively recent border configurations? The symposium seeks to bring together scholars working across social science, humanities, and policy arenas to raise new questions about the current moment and to link it to longer trajectories and processes of making and unmaking borders in Eastern South Asia. By bringing together scholars working in Indias Northeast, Bangladesh, and West Bengal, we hope to contextualize these contemporary crises as part of a broader regional transformation. In doing so, we seek to connect past to present in a critical region where the future hangs in the balance.
Yasmin Saikia: Notes on the Bangladeshi Issue in Assam Shana Ghosh: Into the Unbearable Remoteness of the Rangpur Road Carola Lorea: Matua, Hindu, or Foreigner? Shifting Identities in Bengali-Speaking Borderlands
10:15 10:30 am: Coffee Break
10:30 am 12:15 pm: Session 2 Border Environments (Chair/Discussant: Jason Cons)
Amites Mukhopadhyay: Forested Borders, Fluid Movements: Imagining and Negotiating Borders in the Indian Sundarbans Dilshanie Perera: Atmospheric Imaging, Atmospheric Imagining: Weather Prediction across Borderlines in Bengal Debjani Bhattacharyya: Tides and Almanac: Rethinking Land, Water and Law in the Bengal Delta
CR Abrar:The Forsaken Victims of Slow Burning Genocide: International Response to the Rohingya Crisis Samira Siddique: Development for the Stateless: The Rohingya Case Misha Quill: (Un)Wanted: Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Established in 2013 with a generous gift from the Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies at UC Berkeley champions the study of Bangladeshs cultures, peoples and history. The first of its kind in the US, the Centers mission is to create an innovative model combining research, scholarships, the promotion of art and culture, and the building of ties between institutions in Bangladesh and the University of California.