Assam State Archives in Guwahati, India
Politics of state-building and governance at the margins of contemporary states
The intersection between geopolitics, state-building, and subnational conflicts
Buffer states and buffer zones in the post-WWII era (in collaboration with Boaz Atzili)
The legacies of imperial order and frontier governance
Frontier State-building: Colonial group structure and center-periphery politics in hinterlands of India and Myanmar
My dissertation examines the politics of subnational territorial control and state-building in geographically challenging border regions of South and Southeast Asia. Departing from the prevailing theories of state formation emphasizing the center's capacity and will, my dissertation examines the role of alliances and frictions between the state center and peripheral elites at the edges of state boundaries. I argue that historical group boundaries and structure (fragmented or hegemonic) inherited from colonial rule within peripheral societies play a decisive role in structuring center-periphery interactions and the center's state-building response in the postcolonial period. This project aims to provide a novel explanation for the dynamic center-periphery relations and uneven state-building process observed in border highland regions of South and Southeast Asia pioneered by James Scott. To realize this, I combine extensive field interviews and archival research on the border regions of northeastern India (Mizoram, Nagaland) and northern Myanmar (Chin, Kachin).
2023. "Buffer Zones and International Rivalry: Internal and External Geographic Separation Mechanisms" (with Boaz Atzili), International Affairs, 99(2): 645-665.
- Winner of Van Kirk Awards from American University; Selected as "Editor's Choice" for the issue
Manuscripts in Progress:
"Uneven Violent Geographies: External Pressures, Selective State-Building, and Peripheral Conflict" (final preperation for a manuscript submisison; availabe upon request)
"Buffer State Dataset, 1945-2020" (with Boaz Atzili, Grace Benson & Ozan Ahmet Cetin) (data collection & analysis phase)
“Pulling the Center In: Territorial Expansion within the Northeast Frontiers of British Raj”