chapter  17
12 Pages

Turning your back to the border

Federalism, territory, and claims for autonomy in the Nepal–India borderland
WithRune Bennike

This chapter explores claims to territorial authority for a Limbuwan federal state in Nepal’s eastern borderland. In a national context of extended political transition, these claims seek to revive long-abandoned territorial borders through a mixture of academic narratives, imitation of state practice, and spatially-oriented political mobilisation. While they rely heavily on a politics of culture that highlights narratives of ethnic belonging, this chapter argues that these claims also point towards an emerging culture of politics framed by the Nepali state. Exploring these two dimensions of the movement, the chapter illustrates the extent to which political aspirations have been successfully territorialised to conform to national borders, even in a context characterised by fragile national transition, a long history of cross-border mobility, and parallel claims to autonomy on the Indian side of the border.