Assam State Archives in Guwahati, India

Research Interests:

    • 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


Dissertation Project:

Explaining Territorial Control and State-Building in Highland Peripheries 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).

Publication:

2023. "Buffer Zones and International Rivalry: Internal and External Geographic Separation Mechanisms" (with Boaz Atzili), Forthcoming in International Affairs

Manuscripts in Progress:

"Uneven Violent Geographies: External Pressures, Selective State-Building, and Peripheral Conflict"

"Buffer Dataset, 1945-2020" (with Boaz Atzili, Grace Benson & Ozan Ahmet Cetin)

“Pulling the Center In: Territorial Expansion within the Northeast Frontiers of British Raj”

“Cold War Alliances, Domestic Power Struggles, and Counterinsurgency in Northern Highlands of Thailand, 1937-1980”