Cover of In the Name of the Nation by Sanjib Baruah
In the Name of the Nation
India and Its Northeast
Sanjib Baruah

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February 2020
296 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9781503610705
Paper ISBN: 9781503611283

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In India, the eight states that border Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Tibetan areas of China are often referred to as just "the Northeast." In the Name of the Nation offers a critical and historical account of the country's troubled relations with this borderland region. Its modern history is shaped by the dynamics of a "frontier" in its multiple references: migration and settlement, resource extraction, and regional geopolitics. Partly as a result of this, the political trajectory of the region has been different from the rest of the country. Ethnic militias and armed groups have flourished for decades, but they coexist comfortably with functioning electoral institutions. The region has some of India's highest voter turnout rates, but special security laws produce significant democracy deficits that are now almost as old as the Republic. That these policies have been enforced to foment national unity while multiple alternative conceptions of the "nation" animate politics in the region forces us to reflect on the very foundations of the nation form. Sanjib Baruah offers a nuanced account of this impossibly complicated story, asking how democracy can be sustained, and deepened, in these conditions.

About the author

Sanjib Baruah is Professor of Political Studies at Bard College, New York. His previous books include India Against Itself (1999) and Durable Disorder (2005).

"In this book, Sanjib Baruah provides scholars and students up-to-date facts, new revelations, astute analysis, and basic background for understanding history and politics in northeast India. This is also essential reading for anyone concerned with the quality of sovereignty in India, where national state territorialism is rife with contradictions, ambiguities, militarism, and conflicting allegiances."

—David Ludden, New York University

"With In the Name of the Nation, Sanjib Baruah completes an impressive trilogy of books on India's Northeast. This book unravels the paradoxes of postcolonial life in the periphery of the nation-state with theoretical elegance, intimate knowledge, and political commitment. It is a wonderful read that sets a new standard for South Asian scholarship."

—Bengt G. Karlsson, Stockholm University

"Elegantly written and cogent, Baruah's simultaneous 'insider-outsider' analysis of the region known generically as 'India's Northeast' is rich, nuanced, and multilayered. It captures the long-lasting impact of colonial policies and their present-day legacies, particularly in terms of how the 'center' and the 'peripheries' were imagined. A superb book for anyone wishing to understand how issues of citizenship, identity, and nation-making play out in the region today."

—Urvashi Butalia, author of The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India

"This is an important, accessibly written scholarly work that illuminates what democracy means by viewing it from the margins. A must-read for those interested in the contemporary politics of the Indian northeast and for those interested in the theory, history, and practice of democracy."

—Kanchan Chandra, New York University