Re-Imagining India’s Northeast: Beyond Territory and State

By Prasenjit Biswas

Northeast India is doubly displaced within the Constitutional nation-space: as a political-territorial space of the nation, it is still a “periphery”, while as a culturally specific locale its difference is misrecognised. Although the discourse of development normalises the space of difference, in the case of Northeast, it produces a disjunction between the “developmental ensemble” and the lived and the experiential world of multitudes. This disjunction can be thematised in the opening and the closure of the region in the logic of exclusivity in the very operation of the Constitutional mechanism. Suffice it to say that the logic of power privileges a discourse of “top-down” instrumentalist development over and against the primacy of the constitutional forms of justice and equity. The inherently communitarian character of resource distribution and ownership is significantly distorted and altered by the process of “mainstreaming” that the constitutional mechanism simultaneously upholds and debars. The contest between ethnic-communitarian sphere and the civic domain produces a dialectics of containment for both the State and the community.

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