This essay considers the fraught issue of clandestine migrations from East Pakistan/Bangladesh into India through a close reading of Prafulla Roy's Bengali short story “Stateless.” By drawing attention to the Indian state's slippery construction of the “illegal migrant” and to the increasingly constricting definition of Indian citizenship, I argue that the “illegal Bangladeshi” is a deeply unstable category, open to misuse and translation by different state actors/agencies. “Stateless” enables us to imagine the precarious existence of the sans papiers as de facto stateless persons and illustrates the importance of citizenship as legal status for those who don't have it.
Citizenship and the Remains of Partition(s) in South Asia: Unauthorized Migrants across India's Eastern Borders
Priya Kumar is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Delhi, India. Many thanks to Rajeswari Sunder Rajan and Sujata Ramachandran for their helpful comments on an earlier, longer version of this essay. Thanks, as well, to Devika Chawla for inviting me to submit an essay for this inaugural issue of Departures. And, as always, my deepest gratitude to my father, Tapishwar Kumar, who read and commented on an earlier version, even if he isn't around to see it published. Email: email@example.com.
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Priya Kumar; Citizenship and the Remains of Partition(s) in South Asia: Unauthorized Migrants across India's Eastern Borders. Departures in Critical Qualitative Research 1 March 2019; 8 (1): 50–65. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/dcqr.2019.8.1.50
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