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Cartographic conflicts within a union: Finding land for Nagaland in India
Political Geography (2017)
  • Ankush Agrawal
  • Vikas Kumar
Colonial-era borders continue to be sites of intra- and inter-national territorial conflicts across the Indian Sub-continent. The State of Nagaland in North East India has been witness to one of the oldest armed struggles in the region to redraw colonial borders. The Nagaland government finds itself sandwiched between an irredentist insurgency and the union government. This paper examines the cartographic-statistical fallout of the Nagaland government's balancing act that is reflected in, among other things, the diversity of conflicting maps published by different tiers and wings of the government. The paper suggests that the cartographic/territorial conflicts between Nagaland and its neighbouring states are driven by the use of political-geographic arguments to advance political-economic interests along contested borders. These conflicts are not amenable to a technical resolution as they are rooted in the as yet inconclusive search for a stable basis for Naga identity and the ongoing dispute over Nagaland's place within the Union of India. Nagaland's borders are, in fact, sites of collision of different conceptions of nationhood (Indian and Naga) and understandings of constitutional federalism. The union government tolerates Nagaland's parchment transgressions and occasional physical “encroachments.” Its cartographic laxity is motivated by the need to avoid a strictly legalistic approach that would necessitate the use of force to implement a singular, exclusive solution to protracted territorial disputes involving several states.
  • Area statistics,
  • Colonial borders,
  • Competitive developmentalism,
  • Nagaland,
  • Postcolonial conflicts,
  • Scalar politics
Publication Date
July 22, 2017
Citation Information
Ankush Agrawal and Vikas Kumar. "Cartographic conflicts within a union: Finding land for Nagaland in India" Political Geography Vol. 61 Iss. C (2017)
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