Re-imagining Borders in the Northeast Borderlands of India: Yearning for the Past and Its Impossible Return (77428)

Session Information: Literature/Literary Studies
Session Chair: Hope Yu

Saturday, 25 May 2024 16:45
Session: Session 5
Room: Room 608
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

The Northeast region of India is considered a borderland because of its conceptualisation as a liminal zone between ‘South Asia’ and ‘Southeast Asia’, and its geopolitical significance in functioning as a crossroad between India and its international neighbours. Birendra Bhattacharya’s bildungsroman novel, Yaruingam: Love in the Time of Insurgency (1960) is set in a small town called Ukhrul in Northeast India, during the aftermath of the Second World War following the retreat of the Japanese soldiers, when the region had functioned as the eastern frontier of the British Empire, and a consequent battleground. It depicts the evolution of two contrasting political ideologies within the emerging Naga National movement, pitting the desire for the retrieval of the traditional past through violent revolutions against the acceptance of the progressive change brought by the foreign influences.

This paper, however, focuses on the way two peripheral figures of society — "the migrant" and the "fallen woman" assume the role of central agents in this movement. It argues that the narrative explores the contingencies involved in creating fixed borders and insulated identities by juxtaposing the sense of nostalgia of the "Outcast" and the "Other" individual with that of the collective memory of society, where both yearn for the past ‘golden age’. The construction of ethnic nationalism through the perspectives of these characters allow us to see "borderlands, like the borders that define them", as "processes, continually remade, reaffirmed, renegotiated and re-imagined". The impossibility of a return to the past thus reflects the unsustainability of rigid identities.

Songayam Zimik, University of Hyderabad, India

About the Presenter(s)
Mr. Songayam Zimik is currently a PhD Scholar at the University of Hyderabad, India.

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00