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Author of India-China Borderlands – Conversations beyond the Centre – Nimmi Kurian, Associate Professor at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, India. India Representative of the India China Institute (ICI), The New School, New York, speaks to Mark Ulyseas. (Sage Publications)
Recall the romanticism of Silk Road lore of sinuous tracks that carried goods, peoples, ideas, customs, religions and languages. Yet the fact remains that today the India-China border regions and cross-cultural signposts such as Shigatse, Jelep La, Lohit, Chengdu, Ledo and Dali hardly figure in the mainstream policy and research consciousness. Much of this cosmopolitan slice of social, economic and cultural history today remains sadly forgotten. This seemed not unlike a Matryoshka challenge, nesting one fascinating layer within another. The book is a small step towards unpacking this interesting conundrum.
The book attempts to fill this gap by arguing for the need to reclaim these cosmopolitan histories and the manner in which these have shaped the daily lives of people who lived across these borders. These are the residents of Asia’s highlands, a corner of the world little known and even less understood. The region presents a picture postcard collage with its rich fare of festivals, monasteries, temples and churches, verdant tea gardens, mighty rivers, deep forests, diverse ecological zones and even more diverse peoples.
Dr Nimmi Kurian is Associate Professor at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, India and India Representative, India China Institute, The New School, New York. Her research interests include border studies, India-China borderlands; approaches to regionalism; transborder resource governance particularly water. Her recent publications include: The India China Borderlands: Conversations Beyond the Centre, Sage, 2014; “Building Half Bridges? India’s Northeast and the ‘New’ Reading of Borders”, Man and Society: Journal of North-East Studies, Vol. Xi, Winter 2014; “Uncharted Waters: Navigating the Downstream Debate on China’s Water Policy” in K. J. Joy et al eds, Compendium on Water Conflicts in Northeast India (Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India, Pune, 2013) and “Subregionalising IR? New Frames for the India-China Borderlands”, in L. H. M. Ling (ed.), Rethinking Borders and Security, India and China: New Connections for Ancient Geographies, (University of Michigan Press, 2015, forthcoming).