Ethnicity, Identity and Cartography: Possession/Dispossession, Homecoming/Homelessness in Contemporary Assam

Parag Moni Sarma


Ethnicity is emerging as a focal consideration in the politics of identity in contemporary Assam, a state of the Indian union in the North East of India. Often identifi ed as a fl ash point in the subversive politics that question the logistics of the Indian nation, North East India is emerging as a cartographic domain that posits questions of internal colonialism and hegemony. Cartographic reorientation of territory based on factors of linguistic and ethnic identity is perceived as a way to acquire new homelands that will foster self-validation and the ‘all round development’ of the people. The North East of India is dotted with armed insurrection for autonomous territories under the Indian Union or total severance, depending on the population and the spatial domain of the ethnic groups in question. The linkages with questions of social, cultural and political marginalisation, as well as political assertion provide interesting scope for academic exploration. The present paper seeks to understand and trace such assertive movements in Assam to forces of historical neglect as well as the rhetoric of marginalisation that is surfeit in contemporary assertive idioms of diff erent ethnic groups.


identity; ethnicity; transactive domain; resistant pluralism; cartography

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