Pre-PhD Colloquium by Mr.Surya S Sen on 'Understanding the Implications of Local Conflicts on Bilateral Relations: Cases of the Land Boundary and Enclave Conflicts on India-Bangladesh Relations'

National Institute of Advanced Studies

Indian Institute of Science Campus



Microsoft Teams Presentation


Pre-PhD Colloquium


Title: Understanding the Implications of Local Conflicts on Bilateral Relations:  Cases of the Land Boundary and Enclave Conflicts on India-Bangladesh Relations


Candidate: Mr. Surya Sankar Sen

Advisor: Dr. Anshuman Behera

Date: Monday, 3rd May 2021

Time:  11:30 AM


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The understanding of conflicts at the national and inter-state levels often appears to be dissociated from assessments of the localised impacts and implications of their occurrences. The processes by which the manner of its resolution is determined by the state every so often, fail to account for issues beyond the consideration of a state’s national interest. As this study elucidates, the engagement with border issues and conflicts within a framework of bilateral cooperation similarly ensues on the basis of national interests.  The arrogation of a ‘local’ issue by the state often prompts their representation through a centrally articulated discourse based upon the state’s identification of the underlying, causative factors. The prevalence of statist narratives of issues and conflicts at the local level impact upon its perception not only at its immediate level of existence, but also at the level of its engagement at a bilateral level, obscuring extant requirements for state intervention and local engagement. Such tendencies are often more pronounced at the borders, whereby efforts are predominantly predicated on the centrality of the state(s) as the foremost organizer of social, political and economic relations and order. The persistence of borderland conflicts beyond their resolution is often understood through the extension of the same problematic of its territorial existence at the limit of the state. Similarly, statist evaluations of progressive change at the local level often remains confined to the restrictive impacts its intervention chiefly brings forth in halting particular recursions. Often, these assessments are based on a simple recognition of new policies or strategies implemented by the state, limited to only the ends it seeks to address. An outcome of this has been the absence of recognition of the changes that such interventions render upon local populations, that hold potential to perpetuate or alter existent conflicts at the local level. This study, based on an ethnography of the former enclave residents of the India-Bangladesh borderland will posit the ‘local’ not only as the object of state-action, but as an ever-changing category, constituted of individuals and processes borne out of reiterated practices, adapting to the changing circumstances brought forth by the state’s insertion at different junctures of its history. This study explores the variable perceptions and negotiations around the presence of stateless enclaves at the local level, to understand the disjuncture between statist enumerations of their existence and their localised manifestations that emerge through interactions and processes surrounding these spaces and their immediate locales. To gather an understanding derived from local experiences in negotiating the changes brought forth by the bilateral resolution of their statelessness, will allow for a more nuanced understanding of the categories and recognitions delimited by the state in its resolution processes and subsequently reveal the limitations of such renderings of spaces, territory and identity that play out at the local level subsequent to the state’s mediation. Establishing this will allow for a more critical exploration of prevalent local conflicts; which the research posits, have persisted, albeit in different forms both at the local and bilateral levels, as a result of an absence of the ‘local’ from bilateral narratives of its resolution.


All are Invited to Attend

Monday, May 3, 2021