The Many Faces of the State

Living in Peace and Conflict in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh

in Conflict and Society
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  • 1 Chittagong University nasir.anthro@cu.ac.bd
  • 2 Ruhr-University Bochum eva.gerharz@rub.de
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ABSTRACT

Reconsidering the trend in anthropology to conceptualize the multifaceted nature of the state and to focus on the local social dynamics beneath the institutional framework of the state, we argue that “state” is not a single governing entity but rather a multilayered body of practices at various levels of the society. We configure “state” as constructed, imagined, and negotiated by people in their everyday life in four dimensions: zones of limited statehood depicted as “peripheries,” “local state” by which the center governs locales, “public discourse” that represents dominant notions of “stateness,” and ambivalent positioning of political elites who represents state in the margin. This argument is substantiated with the reference to the case of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, a southeastern part of Bangladesh.

Contributor Notes

NASIR UDDIN is a cultural anthropologist based in Bangladesh and Professor of anthropology at Chittagong University. His research interests include indigeneity and identity politics; notions of power and state in everyday life; migration, refugee, and statelessness; the Chittagong Hill Tracts; and South Asia. His recent edited books include Life in Peace and Conflict: Indigeneity and State in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Orient BackSwan, 2017) and Indigeneity on the Move: Varying Manifestations of a Contested Concept (Berghahn Books, 2017, with Eva Gerharz and Pradeep Charrakath).

EVA GERHARZ is Junior Professor of sociology of development and internationalization at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. Formerly, she was Researcher in the Department of Social Anthropology at Bielefeld University, where she also obtained her doctoral degree in sociology in 2007. Her research interests are development sociology, activism, identity politics, conflict and transnational and translocal dynamics in South Asia. She is the author of The Politics of Reconstruction and Development in Sri Lanka (Routledge, 2014) and Governance, Conflict and Development in South Asia (SAGE, 2015) with S.T. Hettige.

Conflict and Society

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