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Reflection 1 Yaqi Fu
In the afternoon’s lecture, around her book Gunnel posed three questions which I think are quite important in helping us understand the North-Eastern India area.
The first is about the formation of identity in absence of state. The North India is different from the South in language, tradition and identity. It’s hard to admit that the state has functioned effectively in shaping the identity of India. The north-eastern parts were often been depicted as a constitution of unions of tribes. With the absence or negative act of state, it would be an interesting topic to investigate how the identity of the north-eastern area produced, and further related to the other parts of India.
The second is about space or the idea of space. Gunnel’s book, unlike previous research, sees the region of North-Eastern India as a center for communication and commerce in ancient time. It worked as a hub that connected both the marine and overland “silk road” which incorporated Southwest China, Southeast Asia, India Peninsula. On the other hand, the North-Eastern India is also seen as the boundary between India and Southeast Asia. Boundary demarcating makes this region a more diversified identity according to different standards of boundaries.
The third is a about the perception of nature. Nature in this area is usually perceived as something dangerous. Natural disasters like drought and flood make indigenous people suffer death and become homeless. The landscape in this region also changes greatly such as water and land altering according to seasons. More importantly, nature functions in another way as boundaries that divide and separate different culture and countries in this region. So, nature is not mere the outside nature in this sense, but serves as a key factor in shaping people’s identity and also help separate different groups.
The road between China and India can be summarized as two: the overland one and the marine one. Mongol had governed China in Yuan Dynasty. In a larger sense, the governance of India by Mughal Empire can also be seen as the road created by Mongolians that connected China and India. The three ways were important in communication before the British came and still functioned under the Bureaucratic organization established by the Britain. It would be interesting if Chinese and Mongolian materials can be used to investigate this area.
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