This World and the “Other”: Muslim Identity and Politics on the Indo-Bangladesh Border

Journal article

Kolås, Åshild (2023) This World and the “Other”: Muslim Identity and Politics on the Indo-Bangladesh Border, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political. DOI: 10.1177/03043754231196587.

Read the article here (Open Access)

This article investigates the “othering” of Muslims in two Northeast Indian states: Assam and Tripura, in a region known for its ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity, and long history of militancy and civil unrest. Northeast Indian politics thrives on disagreement between “Us” and “Them” and tensions over illegal migration, drawing on overlapping or intersecting frames of “othering.” This study asks why and how the political “othering” of Muslims persists, and why the religious frame, or the Hindu–Muslim divide, is more salient in some parts of the region than in others. Drawing on fieldwork on the Indian side of the Indo-Bangladesh border in Tripura and southern Assam, historical records and contemporary print media archives, this study compares the role of Hindu–Muslim contention in the politics of the two neighboring states and finds reproduction of the Hindu–Muslim divide in Assam and resistance to Muslim “othering” in Tripura. The theoretical contribution of this article is to confront the concept of “othering” with colonial and post-colonial frameworks of representation to understand how contemporary non-Western “worlds of difference” capitalize on, reproduce and resist vestiges of colonial representations.

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