Mapping a Colonial Borderland: Objectifying the Geo-Body of India's Northeast

M. Satish Kumar, David Vumlallian Zou

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    37 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    India’s Northeast frontier is at the margins of three study areas: South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. This paper attempts a history of “mapping” in its broader sense as a cultural universal over a relatively long period. It is not a history of cartography, but focuses on the interface between cartography and cosmography, which were, in turn, shaped by imperial power and geographical knowledge. This approach offers a high-altitude view of this Asian borderland as the imperial frontier of both the Mughals and the British, and the national fringe of Republican India. The authors argue that imperial geographical discourses invested the colonial Northeast (British Assam) with a new kind of territorial identity. Surveyors and mapmakers objectified the “geo-body” of this borderland in a spatial fix and visualized it as a Northeast-on-the-map. Cartographic territoriality naturalized traditional frontiers into colonial borderlands, which, in turn, forged national boundaries.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)141-170
    Number of pages30
    JournalThe Journal of Asian Studies
    Volume70
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011

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