ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Relative Intimacies

Belonging and Difference in Transnational Families

Described here are stories of families within the borderlands of India and Bangladesh who have kin relations on the other side of the border. They are about the continued making and maintenance of kinship ties across transnational family networks over the changing practices of border control. Officers and constables in the Indian Border Security Force, tasked with preventing all cross-border movements, recognised with sympathy the existence and emotional power of cross-border family ties. This article attempts to answer questions like what normative and emotive ideas about kin obligations and morality prevail upon individuals and families as they decide whether or not to continue investment in relations across borders. How do these sit within the larger political economy of the border itself?

My deepest gratitude and respect to all the families in the Indian and Bangladeshi borderlands who welcomed me into the histories and rhythms of their transnational lives and for the many security force personnel whose critical refl ections and sympathies exceed their duties. Thanks to Farhana Ibrahim, Tanuja Kothiyal, Martin Mattsson, and Tariq Thachil for comments that helped to make some arguments sharper. The fi eldwork from which this article draws was funded by grants from the Wenner Gren Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, Macmillan Centre, and the National Science Foundation.

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Updated On : 15th May, 2021
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