Editors’ Introduction: Performing Identity Politics and Culture in Northeast India and Beyond

2013 | journal article. A publication of Göttingen

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​Editors’ Introduction: Performing Identity Politics and Culture in Northeast India and Beyond​
Lauser, A.   & Barkataki-Ruscheweyh, M.​ (2013) 
Asian Ethnology72(2) pp. 189​-197​.​

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Lauser, Andrea ; Barkataki-Ruscheweyh, Meenaxi
This essay introduces the reader to the politically complex and geographically strategic but relatively less studied region of Northeast India and connects the seven articles contained in this special issue by showing how they explore different aspects of the performance of national, ethnic, and cultural identities. It suggests new ways of understanding and interpreting history, ethnicity, and cultural concerns in the region. Although politically a part of India and hence of South Asia, Northeast India lies in the northwestern periphery of Southeast Asia. It is home to many distinct communities from both east and west and is an area of incredible ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity. The resultant friction among these groups as well as with the mainstream Indian population has led to assertions of ethnic identity amongst many minority groups in recent years, some going as far as threatening to secede from the Indian state. It has therefore become imperative to understand the dynamics of ethnicity and cultural identity movements, as well as the underlying political considerations. Rather than filing cultural traditions into simplistic dichotomous categories, this set of articles consider these traditions to result from interactions between people and ambient contexts, as well as the changes in power relations over time. Identities, as asserted in this region, are more persistent and more inherent than just mere responses to the world beyond.
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Asian Ethnology 
Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät ; Institut für Ethnologie