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In this talk, Dr Reeju Ray will be elaborating upon the main themes from her new book Placing the Frontier in British North-East India: Law, Custom, and Knowledge (OUP, 2023).
The frontier of the British empire in India examined in this book form part of the Indian state of Meghalaya comprising Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia districts, and Sylhet Division in Bangladesh. During the nineteenth century the words Khasi, Jaintia, and Garo came to denote both hills and tribal inhabitants in the colonial frontier of British Bengal. Colonial governance through law formulated the hills as frontier and its inhabitants as tribal. Law assumed the task of defining both people and land in relation to what was understood as an uncivilised and untamed frontier landscape. The “where of law” as a critical analytic allows a reconsideration of key legal categories such as frontier, British and non-British territory, non-regulation areas, scheduled districts, hill tribal, settler proprietor, cultivator subject, among others. Through a study of place-making by colonised inhabitants of the frontier the book further demonstrates the heterogeneous narratives of self and belonging found in sites of orality and kinship that shape the hills in the present day.
Dr Bérénice Guyot-Réchard will act as the discussant.
About the speaker
Dr Reeju Ray
Dr Ray is an Associate Professor at O.P. Jindal Global University. She has a Ph.D. in History from Queen's University, Canada. Her area of expertise is Southern Asian History, and her research interests include Legal History, Human Geography, Memory Studies, and Global Indigenous Studies.
About the discussant
Dr Bérénice Guyot-Réchard
Dr Guyot-Réchard is a lecturer at King's College London. She is a historian of South Asia and international relations, with special expertise in the connections between state-making, nation-building and geopolitics, notably in border spaces like the Himalayas and the Indian Ocean.