'Hunger has brought us into this jungle': Understanding mobility and immobility of Bengali immigrants in Chittagong Hills of Bangladesh

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Abstract

The recent history of the Chittagong Hills in Bangladesh is marked by ongoing conflicts between minority (non-Muslim and non-Bengali) locals and state-sponsored (Bengali Muslim) immigrants. In general, these immigrants are framed as land grabbers who have been receiving protection from a pro-Bengali military force. We propose instead, that the understanding of these Bengalis as a homogenous category of mobile perpetrators fails to take into account their complex histories as mobile landless peasants. Our ethnographic research reveals that the framing of the local minorities and the mobile Bengalis as two antagonistic categories with opposing interests obscures the fact that both categories have fallen victim to very similar regimes of mobilities and immobilities of the state and national and local (political, economic and military) elites. Here, we reject binary thinking that counterpoises mobility and immobility as two antagonistic concepts and argue that mobility and immobility are intrinsically related and their relationship is asymmetrical.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-412
JournalSocial Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2017

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hunger
Bangladesh
immigrant
military elite
minority
history
peasant
Muslim
Military
regime
economics

Keywords

  • Mobility, immobility, ethnic-conflict, Chittagong Hills, Bangladesh

Cite this

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title = "'Hunger has brought us into this jungle': Understanding mobility and immobility of Bengali immigrants in Chittagong Hills of Bangladesh",
abstract = "The recent history of the Chittagong Hills in Bangladesh is marked by ongoing conflicts between minority (non-Muslim and non-Bengali) locals and state-sponsored (Bengali Muslim) immigrants. In general, these immigrants are framed as land grabbers who have been receiving protection from a pro-Bengali military force. We propose instead, that the understanding of these Bengalis as a homogenous category of mobile perpetrators fails to take into account their complex histories as mobile landless peasants. Our ethnographic research reveals that the framing of the local minorities and the mobile Bengalis as two antagonistic categories with opposing interests obscures the fact that both categories have fallen victim to very similar regimes of mobilities and immobilities of the state and national and local (political, economic and military) elites. Here, we reject binary thinking that counterpoises mobility and immobility as two antagonistic concepts and argue that mobility and immobility are intrinsically related and their relationship is asymmetrical.",
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AB - The recent history of the Chittagong Hills in Bangladesh is marked by ongoing conflicts between minority (non-Muslim and non-Bengali) locals and state-sponsored (Bengali Muslim) immigrants. In general, these immigrants are framed as land grabbers who have been receiving protection from a pro-Bengali military force. We propose instead, that the understanding of these Bengalis as a homogenous category of mobile perpetrators fails to take into account their complex histories as mobile landless peasants. Our ethnographic research reveals that the framing of the local minorities and the mobile Bengalis as two antagonistic categories with opposing interests obscures the fact that both categories have fallen victim to very similar regimes of mobilities and immobilities of the state and national and local (political, economic and military) elites. Here, we reject binary thinking that counterpoises mobility and immobility as two antagonistic concepts and argue that mobility and immobility are intrinsically related and their relationship is asymmetrical.

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