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Rafiq, Samah (2022) 'Linear Borders, Partition and Identity in Postcolonial South Asia.' Geopolitics, 27 (2). pp. 478-500.

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This paper critiques the legitimisation of linear borders in mainstream international relations (IR) through a focus on postcolonial South Asia. It brings insights from political geography in conversation with IR, making three key arguments: 1. The knowledge production on bordering in postcolonial South Asia remains trapped within the cognitive confines of linear bordering 2. Problematising linear bordering can therefore lead to newer critical questions about partition/bordering in South Asia, such as: is there a way to delink democracy and political independence from linear and precisely defined territorial borders? 3. Linear bordering in South Asia has been constitutive of the identities it aimed to isolate. The paper builds its arguments from an IR perspective and relies on IR’s treatment of borders, and scholarship on state formation and partition in postcolonial South Asia, to make its case. The paper understands linear borders as straight lines connecting a series of dots on a map in a way that one territory can only fall into one polity. This linear bordering was first attempted by colonial powers in Africa and then transported to other parts of the world. In South Asia, it produced reification of identities thus making divisions of territories appear as simple solutions to vastly complex challenges of identity formation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: border, South Asia, partition, postcolonial
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
J Political Science
ISSN: 14650045
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2023 18:02
Funders: Other

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