Sanjib Baruah’s latest book In the Name of the Nation: India and its Northeast (Stanford University Press, 2020) completes a trilogy on India’s northeastern borderland region of which the first two are India Against Itself: Assam and the Politics of Nationality (1999) and Durable Disorder: Understanding the Politics of Northeast India (2005).
Writing about a region that is 'an artifact of a deliberate policy', the directional name--the Northeast--is a postcolonial coinage that refers to the eight states of India that border Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Tibetan areas of China. Baruah's book is a wide-ranging analysis of a mode of governance that has become associated with the region where armed resistance, electoral institutions, states of exception and the force of development co-exist. Baruah's book is a dive into the 'unfinished business of partition' in this borderland region, contested sovereignty, citizenship and mobility and the postcolonial trajectory of the colonial state in its direct and indirect avatar. Scholars studying civil conflict and armed resistance as well as those studying the political economy of borderlands and nationalism will find in Baruah's book deep and comparative insights into universal concerns of federalism, development and democracy. This is a crucial text to introduce students and scholars to the dilemmas and contradictions of a democracy as well as a region to whose concern institutional academia has arrived rather belatedly.
Dr. Sanjib Baruah is a Professor of Political Studies at Bard College.
Bhoomika Joshi is a doctoral student in the department of anthropology at Yale University.