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The Marginal Nation

The Marginal Nation
Transborder Migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal

First Edition

March 1999 | 227 pages | SAGE Publications Pvt. Ltd
Throughout South Asia, questions of ‘illegal immigration’ combined with those of ‘national security’ have acquired politically explosive dimensions in recent years. Despite this, migration studies have remained, by and large, confined to the domails of economics and demography. Dealing with transborder migrations from Bangladesh to West Bengal, The Marginal Nation analyzes these issues within a richer perspective which accommodates the historical, cultural and geographic dimensions along with the economic and demographic.

Written in an activist and interventionist mode, this book challenges the validity of the concept of the nation-state in the context of post-colonial South Asia. Ranbir Smaddar demystifies the constructs of ‘borders’ and ‘national territory’ by bringing to the fore the viewpoints of the migrants themselves. He questions the practical value of these terms by showing how the flow of people across the Indo-Bangladesh border is prompted by historical and social affinities, geographical contiguity, and the economic imperative. Pitted against the natural urge for survival, ‘nation’ and ‘border’ are easily marginalized in the minds of the people who then find ‘illegal’ ways to tackle this obstacle in the path of their well-being. The net result is that the very future of transplanted concepts such as ‘nation-state’, ‘national security’ and ‘national borders’ is in doubt in present-day South Asia.

Based on hitherto unused data, reports and travels along the borders and to the migrants’ hamlets, this book forcefully challenges the approach which privileges the ‘nation’ above other forms of community. Dr Samaddar argues for a new methodology which will accommodate the logic of historiacal continuity as well as the rights of the people compelled by circumstance to be on the move. The first study of its kind in the subcontinent, the volume will be of interest to students and scholars in the fields of political science, sociology, history, human rights, demography and ethnic studies.

The World of the Edges
Legality, Illegality and Reasons of State
Those Accounts
Continuities, Discontinuities
A Hossain Mia of Today?
Caste and Other Affinal Ties
Cartographic Representations and Anxieties
Naturalization, Valorization
Proletarianization, Lumpenization and Their Metaphors
Agrarian Impasse and the Making of an Immigrant Niche
A Village in Malda
The Numbers Game

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ISBN: 9780761992837