The Political Economy of the Indo-Myanmar Frontier: Exploring Historical Links and Current Challenges in Mizo-Chin Relations
Borders have always witnessed social and cultural interaction. They are dynamic trans-national zones/spaces which have seen both cooperation and conflict. They are treated as ‘margins’ of societies and economies and have hardly figured in the national consciousness and policies. The Indo-Myanmar border is a challenging area as it faces multiple issues of illegal migration, trafficking of drugs and people, armed conflicts, ecological devastation, movement of non-state actors and insurgent groups etc. The Mizos and the Chins who have shared common ancestral roots, religion, cultural and ethnic linkages etc are divided by a border which is creating differences. The presentation would aim to not only narrate a story of the history of these two communities but will also dwell into the current disputes that have arisen. Emotions have ranged from that of solidarity & toleration to hostility & animosity. The aim would be to give a glimpse of the region’s ‘contested’ past and present in order to understand the intriguing power equations, complicated social relations and perennial xenophobia. Politics of exclusion and competition for livelihoods has interfered with the maintenance of durable peace. Understanding of these processes and giving a ‘voice’ to the voiceless is crucial for a better future in the region.
Dr Reshmi Banerjee is currently a visiting scholar in the Asian Studies Centre in St. Antony’s College. She was previously a research associate in the Centre of Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) in SOAS, University of London where she worked on land conflicts in Myanmar and on the political economy of the Indo-Myanmar frontier. She has been a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of International Relations in the University of Indonesia (UI) and was a researcher in the Economic Research Center, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) in Jakarta. Reshmi has worked as a fellow in the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies (RGICS, New Delhi), has been a Visiting Professor in the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research (Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi) and has taught in Delhi University and in the University of Indonesia. She is a political scientist with specialisation in food security and agricultural policies and has an MPhil and PhD in the subject from the Centre for Political Studies (CPS), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her edited book Climate Change in the Eastern Himalaya: Impact on Livelihoods, Growth and Poverty was published in February 2015.