Security scripts: Civil-military relations and everyday mobility under surveillance in the India-Bangladesh borderlands

HSS Occasional Seminar
Event Speaker: 
Sahana Ghosh
Event Time: 
03:00 PM to 04:30 PM
Event Venue: 
Committee Room (Ms 610)

As India drives an increasingly militarized border security agenda along its officially ‘friendly’ border with Bangladesh, its preemptive practices to control the illegal movement of people and goods are directed to routes and movements within the Indian borderlands. How, and in what forms and scales, are threats and dangers embodied and made concrete for the policing of suspect mobilities by the Indian security forces from their abstract mandate of ‘national security’? Focusing ethnographic attention to everyday journeys by foot and various shared vehicles, this talk proposes the idea of ‘security scripts’ to think about an interactive co-production and socio-spatial experience of border security by residents and security force personnel alike. It argues that how people choose to move, what routes they take, the rhythms of those journeys, and socialities on the move are key to life in a highly surveilled space and shows how security practices transform the borderlandscape into a gendered geography. Such a focus on the intersections of affect and bodily experiences with the spatial dimensions of border control urges a rethinking of the forms of knowledge through which security states are formed and constrained. It shows that visible militarized encounters have afterlives in numerous times and spaces of everyday life.

Sahana Ghosh is a social anthropologist who researches, teaches and writes about gendered forms of transnational mobility, borders, militarization, development and nationalism. She has completed a PhD in Anthropology and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. Her work has been published in a variety of platforms such as Gender, Place and Culture, Economic and Political Weekly, Contemporary South Asia, Himal, Cafe Dissensus. She has previously worked in human rights and anti-trafficking organizations in South Asia. ​