Ethnic Identity and Religion in the India-Bangladesh Borderlands

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This study examines the interface between the cultural and political identities of people living on the international border between India and Bangladesh while discussing how the micro-differences of ethnic and cultural identities governed by religion of the people living on both sides of borderland have been institutionalized by the state in manifesting its political identities. Concerned with issues of identity, this book will be useful to Anthropologists, Sociologists, and Political Scientists interested in identity politics and strategic studies. Besides, the findings of the study will have great relevance for academicians, politicians, policy planners, social and political thinkers, social activists as well as the general reader interested in examining the vexed issue of border relations of India and Bangladesh. This book contains 10 Color photographs.


“Slowly and surely new identities have been emerging, that overshadow to some extent the earlier ethnie. To day it means something to say that I am an Indian or I am a Bangladeshi, in addition to saying that I am a Bengali. The living entity of the border and the meaning that it imparts has redefined existence across both sides. The present book is an exposition of this complex relationship, woven into an ethnographic descriptive study of villages across both sides of the border are the intricate meanings of redefinition, of realizations, and of international power politics entering into people’s back yards and dictating new meanings of existence.” - Dr. Subhadra Channa, Professor of Anthropology, University of Delhi

“In this monograph, Antu Saha presents an original and insightful analysis of identity issues among communities living near the India-Bangladesh border. The study builds on considerable scholarship as well as painstaking field work on both sides of the border. ... it is a fascinating study.” - Dr. Jean Drèze, Visiting Professor, G.B. Pant Social Science Institute

“I think this kind of work should herald a fresh category of anthropological enquiry in future academic discourse in the country. ... I consider this work a really refreshing and new genre of sociological enquiry.” - D.K. Bhattacharya, Professor (Retired), Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi

“The book is a contribution to anthropology in general, border literature in particular, and this specifies of day to day Indo-Bangladesh relations. The interest of the book is principally anthropological, though, of course, the political implications can hardly be ignored. A highly interesting read.” - Dr. Rabindra Ray, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi

“The strength of this book lies in its quantity of information and its depth of analysis. . . . The work is significant in that it takes on a unique issue in the contemporary study of ethnicity and identity formation in the borderlands. The quantity of information the book provides makes this work a real addition to the literature on borderland cultures. “ – Md. Saiful Islam, University of Dhaka for Asian Anthropology

Table of Contents

1 Theoretical Perspectives
2 Methodology and Field Experiences on Borderland
3 Physical Features and Social Organizations on Borderland
4 Historical Backdrop of the Problem
5 Construction of Identities and the Socio-Cultural Situation on Borderland
6 Syncretic Tradition and Conflict Resolution
7 Conclusion

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