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    Songs of life from fluvial worlds: A river, the state and Bengali Muslim char-dwellers in Assam, India

    Das, Bhargabi (2023) Songs of life from fluvial worlds: A river, the state and Bengali Muslim char-dwellers in Assam, India. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    This dissertation looks at state-society relations of marginalized people living in liminal and (now) vulnerable ecologies. It is set in the fluvial and unstable landscapes called Chars or river-islands in Assam, a northeastern state in India. Using ethnography and archival sources, it looks at the historically marginalized Bengali Muslims living in these ‘chars’ and their interactions and experiences with a post-colonial majoritarian state, not just in the background of ‘jatiyotabaad’ or Assamese nationalism but also the rise and consolidation of a Hindutva regime both in India and Assam. This narrative of state-society relations between Bengali Muslim char-dwellers and a majoritarian state is complicated by the fluvial and unpredictable ecological processes and Assam being a borderland state, sharing boundaries with other nations. Thus, as much as this dissertation understands char-dwellers’ relationship with the state through their everyday interactions, it also evaluates this relationship through events such as the ‘anti-immigration’2 Assam Movement or the more recent citizenship project called the National Register of Citizens (NRC). This dissertation thus, in its quest to understand state-society relations, has been informed by and makes commentary on concepts such as violence, fluvial environment, immigration, citizenship, bureaucracy, affect, among others. Using the works of Baruch Spinoza (2002), Gilles Deleuze (1994, 1997) Pierre-Félix Guattari (1987 co-authored with Deleuze) and Sara Ahmed (2014), this dissertation finds affect to be rhizomatic which is a principle guiding both this dissertation’s methodology and as it will be established, the state-society relations in this context. Thus, while it evaluates the violence that is characterized of this state-society relationship, the thesis will show that it is marked by beyond violence. What are the varied dimensions, the other elements that characterize this state-society relation in a borderland state that historically has grappled with ‘anti-immigration’ sentiments but now also faces a fascist Hindu regime, while a river erodes and floods even more violently? That is the story that this dissertation aims to understand.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Songs of life; fluvial worlds; A river; the state; Bengali Muslim char-dwellers; Assam; India;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Anthropology
    Item ID: 17358
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2023 09:34
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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