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The Baloch Borderlands: The Conflict of Tribe and State in a Globalized World

Just Boedeker

This project focuses on Baloch people settling in the borderlands of the nation states Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. As Donnan and Wilson underline in their work on ‘borders’ that an anthropological focus on international borders illuminates the exercise of political power between supranationalism from above and ethnonationalism from below this research on Baloch borderlands exemplifies the ideologies of tribes and states in a specific context: On the one hand the different nation states with more or less pronounced national boundaries underlining national territorial integrity, on the other hand Baloch people living in the borderlands with a high degree of mobility in the framework of plurilocal and transnational kinship networks spreading far beyond the Baloch settlement areas. Following the programme of the working group on conflict, the project explores the contextualised representations and manifestations of this political conflict. It deals with borders, nationality and a sense of belonging, the conflict of centre and periphery and practices of inclusion and exclusion. Both areas are affected by the post-colonial circumstances of British India and the separation of Pakistan.
Simultaneously a range of ethnonationalist movements and forms of ‘social banditry’ like the widely common practice of illicit cross-border trade have established. Considering these movements it should be analysed from the perspective of ‘new regionalism’ how Baloch groups use diasporas to enhance their political influence in other countries and to mobilize resources. This approach underlines how the integration of sub-state regions in global networks influences nationalism in the peripheries. In this framework ‘figurations’ that cut across conventional regional boundaries become exceedingly apparent.

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