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Bangladeshi Migrants in India: Foreigners, Refugees or Infiltrators?
Published by OUP India
The book is a study of the current state of nationalist imagination in three states in India: Assam, West Bengal, and Delhi. It analyses the perceptions of the key political parties and civil society members about the presence of Bangladeshi migrants in these three states. India since Independence has gone through a number of competing nationalist thoughts: secular, Hindutva, and ethnic. The existence of these nationalisms denotes that although India is a modern nation state, its project of attaining a singular nationalism is still ongoing and incomplete. The presence of Bangladeshi migrants in Assam, West Bengal, and Delhi has been a persistent election platform of sectarian Hindu nationalists and ethnic Assamese nationalists. How these various nationalisms position the Bangladeshi migrants, and therefore what these perceptions and ongoing discourses indicate about the current nationalism, is the primary enquiry of this book. This study is an ethnographic record and a personal account that uses in-depth interviews with influential members from key political parties, civil society organizations, and Hindu and ethnic nationalist bodies in Assam, West Bengal, and Delhi. Civil society members are representatives from media, academia, think tanks, and human rights organizations. While Assam and West Bengal give a regional perspective on nationalist discourses, Delhi gives both a regional and a national perspective. The perceptions derived from interviews were analysed against the backdrop of relevant theories of nationalism. This book argues that the perception of Bangladeshi migrants in Assam, West Bengal, and Delhi varies greatly due to the historical, ethnic, and religious affinities of the people in each of the three states
Rizwana Shamshad is a research affiliate at the School of Culture, History and Language, Australian National University (ANU). She completed her PhD at Monash University, Australia, in 2012; her thesis investigated the nationalist discourses on Bangladeshi migrants in the Indian states of Assam, West Bengal, and Delhi. Currently she is working with a government organization as a researcher in the field of migration, education, and settlement in Australia. Previously, Rizwana had worked with universities, policy institutes, and development organizations in Australia, India, and Bangladesh. She has writes regularly for peer reviewed journals, and the press.
Reviewer: Caleb Simmons
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