Sahana Ghosh receives the 2019 Sardar Patel Dissertation Award

Sahana Ghosh receives the 2019 Sardar Patel Dissertation Award

CISA is delighted to announce Sahana Ghosh as the winner of the 2019 Sardar Patel Dissertation Award for a dissertation entitled ‘Borderland orders: Gendered economies of mobility and security across the India-Bangladesh border', completed at Yale University in May 2018.

CISA is delighted to announce Sahana Ghosh as the winner of the 2019 Sardar Patel Dissertation Award for a dissertation entitled ‘Borderland orders: Gendered economies of mobility and security across the India-Bangladesh border', completed at Yale University in May 2018. This prestigious prize is awarded in an in-person celebratory event with the Friends of the Sardar Patel Association who are the benefactors of this dissertation prize.

Sahana Ghosh is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the National University of Singapore. A social anthropologist, Sahana uses ethnography and feminist approaches to study borders and borderlands, citizenship, the national security state, agrarian change, and gendered labors such as in soldiering and transnational migration economies. Her book, A Thousand Tiny Cuts: Mobility and Security Across the India-Bangladesh Borderlands, based on her dissertation, is forthcoming with University of California Press. Her writings and photo essays on forms and experiences of inequality produced through the intersection of mobility, policing, and gender in our contemporary world have been published in a variety of platforms for academic and general audiences. 

Borderland Orders asks what it means to live and work along and across an international border that is being violently militarized. With India’s construction of a fence to seal its border with Bangladesh, there has been a growing security apparatus in both countries. This has led to a high level of violence along an officially ‘friendly’ border that divides a socio-culturally intertwined and densely populated region. While Indian and Bangladeshi national security interests each viewed in isolation appear contradictory, methodological nationalism in research prevents the interconnections by which trans/national security frames tie people and goods in hierarchies of value across regional scales to come to light. Sahana Ghosh draws on two years of ethnographic fieldwork in both countries to study border security regimes and transnational flows and networks, as they are constituted at local, national and regional scales. The chapters of her dissertation explore “illegality” as material and discursive practice that reconfigures gendered social identities, experiences of citizenship and belonging, and shape civil-military encounters in the everyday lives of borderland communities and security forces. For instance, how women marshal the moral force of the family to persuade security forces to allow them to cross to visit relatives or how young Muslim men coming of age in these impoverished borderlands under relentless surveillance from security forces value risk in the illicit border economy are all vital questions that sit at the heart of borderland orders. The ethnography lays out such gendered geographies of mobility, reorienting the frame of analysis from high politics to borderland political economies as the shifting grounds for the consolidation of exclusionary national law, economy, and security. As border walls proliferate across the globe, Borderland orders shows how the life of regional geopolitics advances as nations are gendered and bodies on the move sexualized in particular expressions of threat and vulnerability within, at, and across their shared borders.


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Published: Friday, September 16, 2022

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