Border practices: Labour and nationalism among Brogpas of Ladakh

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10 Scopus citations


Scholarly writings on Kashmir have primarily discussed state-centred initiatives that are aimed at fostering nationalism among border communities. In this paper, I use the example of Brogpas - a border community living on the contested line-of-control between India and Pakistan - to argue that national identity for Brogpas is the product of fostering their national boundaries through their everyday labour practices. A focus on khral (mandatory labour) among Brogpas illuminates how national identities are constituted in the peripheries rather than being 'imposed and built from the centre outward'. Khral also underscores the centrality of border practices in creating and maintaining national consciousness. The customary practice of khral demonstrates that citizenship to the village and the Indian nation-state are not construed as distinct processes by Brogpas. Brogpas establish and/or maintain their allegiance to a particular village by doing khral that among other things includes working for the Indian army as porters. An attention to khral highlights how national identity is instantiated among Brogpas though everyday practices of working for the Indian border rather than through mere symbolic constructions of an imagined community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-157
Number of pages19
JournalContemporary South Asia
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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