Accepted paper:

'They are not fighting for us anymore; they are only thinking about themselves now': narratives of a revolutionary struggle from the Indo-Burma borderlands


Iliyana Angelova (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

The paper presents the unique political institutionalisation of the Naga revolutionary movement in the Indo-Burma borderlands where the civilian population is governed and taxable by six ‘underground’ governments while the official state government is viewed as an agent of the Indian nation-state.

Paper long abstract:

When in 1947 the newly independent Indian nation-state claimed sovereignty over the lands of the Naga, an ethnic group residing in the remote Indo-Burma borderlands, the latter initiated an armed struggle for self-determination and secession from India based on claims to their cultural and historical distinctiveness. In 1975 an accord was signed between the Naga national fighters and the Indian government which installed many of the national fighters into local government and was supposed to bring an end to the armed hostilities. However, the latter did not happen as a dissenting faction split away from the mainstream and continued the armed resistance until 1997 when they also signed a ceasefire agreement with the Indian government. Instead of joining formal politics like their co-combatants in the 1970s, however, these Naga national leaders remained 'underground' and continued to maintain their own government and army structures which, they claimed, were the only legitimate forms of government in Nagaland. Since then, the 'underground' Naga national movement has split a number of times so that there are now six 'underground' governments and one official state government. The paper explores how this unique political arrangement places the civilian population in a deadlock of rampant taxation and extortion in the name of the national movement, and presents the narratives of the ordinary people as they experience their disadvantaged position and reflect upon the unanticipated outcome of their nationalist struggle while Nagaland still remains officially a part of the Republic of India.

panel IP08
The institutionalization of revolutionary movements: ethnographic case studies