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Between Fear and Hope at the Bangladesh-Assam Border

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This paper is about the inhabitants of a small village in Bangladesh, which lies on the border with the Indian state of Assam. Due to an Indo-Bangladesh agreement, inhabitants are confronted with losing their agricultural lands. In addition, since 2010, the Border Security Force of India (BSF) impedes residents in approaching their gardens, an action that has led to repeated confrontations between the BSF and the villagers. Both threats instigate high levels of fear among the residents. However, their hopes are also high. How can we explain equally high levels of fear and hope among the residents? I suggest that the simultaneous surfacing of fear and hope sheds light on “bipolar” state practices on the ground (i.e., at the same time targeting and protecting lives), as well as the entanglement of the existential and the political (i.e., vulnerability and a demand for recognition) in the everyday lives of the residents.

Affiliations: 1: Bielefeld University


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