Twenty Years of Marginal Nation: A Book Symposium

Samir Kumar Das, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, Samata Biswas, Nasreen Chowdhory and Ranabir Samaddar

Ranabir Samaddar’s The Marginal Nation was a serendipitous outcome of his abiding interest in the politics of West Bengal and Bangladesh — ‘the two Bengals.’ Enriched by extensive fieldwork, and an expansive academic framework which assimilated the revelations offered by the field, the book may well be celebrated as marking the beginning of a fecund career in the study of human migration. It sought to portray the difficulties and discontents which produce and pervade migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal, and to employ that portrayal to assert the agency of the migrant as also to challenge constricted ideas of nation, territory, border and citizenship. The novelty and sensibility of Samaddar’s approach made The Marginal Nation a pivotal, even prescient, addition to the discipline of border studies. In a symposium organised to mark the twentieth anniversary of the book’s publication (in November 2020), four academics shared the instructions which they derive from it and the guidance which it offers in understanding the conflicted politics of our present. Revisiting the conception of the book, Samaddar reflected on its influence in his later writings and the interventions which remain to be made.

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Violence in the City: Calcutta Riots of 1946 and Experiences of Muslim Residents

‘The Calcutta riots of 1946 inaugurated a pattern of routine violence, fear, and communal propaganda that continued in the years following independence and partition.’ Sohini Majumdar writes from the archives on the events of August 16, 1946 and immediately afterwards.

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Report: Panel Discussion on Teaching Migration in South Asia

The Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (CRG), in association with the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna, organised a two-day teachers’ workshop on ‘Research Methodology and Syllabus Making in Migration and Forced Migration Studies’, on 21st and 22nd December 2020. Digangana Das reports on the first public pre-workshop session titled ‘Teaching Migration in South Asia’, held virtually on the 20th of December 2020.

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Report on ‘Polis Project- Mapping the Uighur Detention Camps’

The Polis Project by Suchitra Vijayan is a venture into the world of research journalism that regularly reports resistances and oppressions across the globe. In one of the Dispatches (episode -21), Alison Killing and Aydin Anwar are invited to discuss the violence against Uighur- Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China. The episode draws attention to the yet to be widely talked about humanitarian crisis in Xinjiang region of China where Uighur Muslims of East Turkistan are kept in detention camps to be ‘re-educated’ and ‘de-radicalized’ by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Anindita Ghosh reports on this discussion, held on 2nd October, 2020.

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Tale of a Migrant City: CRG’s documentary on refugee colonies

CRG’s documentary film (second in the series Calcutta: Migrant City) seeks to answer a bunch of questions: Who were the refugees to West Bengal? What caste/ class groups did those settling in South Calcutta belong to? What was the land they settled on like? What was the politics and economics of this settlement? Who used to live in this land before the refugees came in? Where did they go? How is the refugee colony represented in literature and cinema? How did they refugee women eke out their own identity in the big city? What part did they play in refugee movements? And lastly–where does the refugee colony stand today vis a vis the neoliberal flows of capital? Shreya Das contextualises this film in the light of existing, canonical works in Partition Studies.

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Covid-19 and Women Migrant Workers: The Situation of the Most Vulnerable

The Covid-19 pandemic and the unprecedented months-long lockdown that followed in India had a shocking impact on every sector – particularly health and economy, which forced lawmakers and the average citizen to see the hidden realities of the workers who are mostly invisible in terms of their social presence while their contributions are not. Migration and the workers who undertake them became important subjects of study as a clear distinction was drawn between those who work in the formal and informal sector. Sukanya Bhattacharya writes about the situation of women migrant workers during the pandemic.

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“We are Born in Conflict, We Live in Conflict, and We Die in Conflict”: A Report on the Virtual Public Lecture, “The Dalit Citizen: In Search of a Homeland.”

Preeshita Biswas reports on MCRG’s webinar “The Dalit Citizen in Search of a Homeland”, held on 18.09.2020. Prof. Paula Banerjee chaired this lecture by Prof. N. Sukumar of Delhi University.

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