chapter  32
12 Pages

Borders, Boundaries and Statelessness

WithBina D’Costa

Borders are powerful symbols of state power and they regulate the movement of people, commodities, capital and information between state territories. This chapter focuses on how communities conceptualize their own identities as living in the margins or on the borders of societies and boundaries. Extant studies on borders and boundaries suggest that state borders construct and accentuate differences not only between states and ‘geographical spaces’, but also between ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’. Bangladesh inherited the borders drawn as part of the partition of India in 1947 that bear the marks of the various cartographic inconsistencies innate to South Asian borders. The Bihari community living in Bangladesh has long been identified as a stateless community that has been excluded from most narratives of borders. The citizenship question and boundary politics remain at the core of Rohingya persecution, statelessness and insecurity. Bangladesh often invokes the argument of national security and state sovereignty in dealing with the concerns of Rohingya and Bihari border communities.