Session Abstract: In recent decades, scholars have explored how urban and town growth in South and East Asia is creating new challenges for governance and everyday life in these rapidly urbanizing regions. Less noted is how urban places are increasingly prominent locales of life and work for communities in and from the Himalaya region. Looking across the montane frontier shared by China, India, and Nepal, this panel adopts an inter-Asia comparative perspective to explore Himalayan urbanization as a political, economic, and social field. Frontier urbanization on the Tibetan Plateau in China as well as in India’s Northeastern states has warranted scholarly investigation (Yeh and Makley 2019; McDuie-Ra and Chettri 2018). However, these considerations have yet to be put into closer conversations with one another, either in comparison or as part of a single process of frontier territorial consolidation between multiple states. Moving beyond exclusive state-centered frameworks and drawing from global studies and political geographies of urban development and frontier assemblages (Cons and Eilenberg 2018), this panel examines frontier urbanization as an entanglement of global urban idioms, national development projects, and local negotiations with modern state making practices. The papers in this session explore a range of topics, including Incredible India’s homestay tourism initiatives in Arunachal Pradesh, the social life of urban aesthetics in frontier Nepal, gender and class dynamics in Sikkim, and boarding school consolidation and its governmental effects in Amdo Tibetan areas of China.
Paper Presenter: Nadine Plachta – University of Fribourg
Paper Presenter: Andrew Grant – Boston College
Paper Presenter: Swargajyoti Gohain – Ashoka University