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Comment to Maggies Speed Presentation

Dear Maggie,

I found your presentation fascinating and especially the term” infiltrators” made me think what was the message behind this ( infiltrating into what? – sounds like these people are suspected to follow a plan to undermine the nation… ) and in which way this was used as a legitimation for certain actions (s you said push backs and detentions).

I also found it very interesting that the classification of Muslim migrants from Bangladesh as infiltrators and the framing of the Indian Nation as a Hindu nation also effected to the Othering and even illegalization of Muslim Indians of different (and also non-migrant) backgrounds.

And, finally, I also find the term insecurity very interesting and would like to hear more about it (as we heard a lot about securitization politics – and I wonder in which way you see the two related to each other… (as I think we will also have the presentation of Bastian Vollmer who in one of his articles argues that the (intentional?) creation of a situation of insecurity (which might be subjective, discursive etc.) also asks for more securitization….).

I have two recommendations for you:

I was on a conference at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Ethnic and religious diversity and heard a paper of Salah Punatil, who is engaging in a similar topic. In case you do not know him, this is the link when he worked at MPI:

and his conference abstract, as I am sure you would have a lot to debate and share:


Assistant Professor University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India
Bureaucracy, Migrant Illegality and National Borders among Families in India


This paper is about the state- driven process of ‘migrant illegality’ and its impact upon the life of Bengali speaking Muslims in the Assam state of India. While the movement of people across borders between India and present-day Bangladesh has been historical and complex, this ethnographic work explores how the state-driven process of detection, detention and ‘deportability’ in the last two decades have disrupted intimate relations and family life among the migrant population in Assam. While the recent NRC (National Register of Citizens) update in Assam identified 1.9 million people as illegal migrants and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 threatens to deport the ‘detected’ Muslims from India, there has been bureaucratic enactment of ‘migrant illegality’ through ‘D’ voters or doubtful voters list[1], and detection of ‘illegal migrants’ through ‘referred cases’ by Assam Border Police for last several years. The institutional procedures, court documents and narratives of the select cases of ‘detected’ as well as ‘detained’ Muslims from ethnographic field work reveals how the absence of formal papers and errors on the family records, kinship relations and property inheritance among the poor migrant families transforms actual citizens to ‘illegal migrants’ in the bureaucratic maneuvering. The paper also shows how prejudice, arbitrariness, and contradictions feed into the bureaucratic process and leading to intense crisis among family units, as several migrant families have both Indians and alleged ‘Bangladeshis’ in their home today. The paper argues that the major consequence of this state-driven ‘migrant illegality’ in the last two decades has been the creation of national borders among families, unsettling intimate relations and shared spaces.

[1] D voter is a category of voters in Assam who are disenfranchised by the government on account of their alleged lack of proper citizenship credentials.

Who could also be interesting for you would be Prof. Julia Eckert from the University of Bern in Switzerland, as she engaged in the study of bureaucracy, especially in India, and dealt with Hindu-Nationalism as well as Muslim terrorism.


So far my thoughts which came up when listening to your great presentation.

All best and until soon,


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Maggie

    Dearest Carolin

    Thank you so much for taking out time to make these precious comments. They really really help me. Infact I am currently working on a paper on the changing notion of citizenship in the country and Salah’s work really ties into what I am trying to say. Wasn’t aware of his work and therefore much gratitude for nudging me towards it. i’ll definitely reach out to him. As for Prof Eckert, I am already borrowing quite a lot from her.

    You also gave me an idea for writing the blog. I think I can write a bot on the conceptualisation of (in)security, especially in the context of my research. 🙂

  2. rama

    whoah this blog is wonderful i really like reading your articles. Keep up the great paintings! You realize, a lot of people are hunting round for this info, you could help them greatly.

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