Imagine a Corridor ...

... in a web of pathways, of shortcuts and intersections. Imagine its many open and closed doors, the side alleys, and sudden open spaces. At one point, a centre for exchanging information, at another, far from the crowds, a secluded place for specialised work. Then imagine the movements and meetings. Think of it as a metaphore.

This project studies the formation of polities in the region that connects India, Bangladesh, Burma, and China, conceptualised as the India-China Corridor, during the formation of the British Empire in Asia. It focuses on two related aspects: the role of natural conditions and the impact of human mobility in the region. It takes a long-term view across the intermediate and transformative century 1820-1920 when the British and Chinese empires expanded their influence here. In contrast to studies of contemporary North-East India as an interlocked enclave bounded by national and international conflicts; through historical enquiry, the project will investigate the larger region as characterised by mobility.

The project poses urgent questions about the causes of intra-regional migration, the formation of rights, and socio-ecological conditions. What are the historical and contemporary social and natural forces that shaped this key-zone of multi-dimensional relations?

The project introduces the concerns of Borderland Studies into debates in environmental and legal history, social anthropology, and religious studies. We suggest the concept of the India-China “Corridor” to better analyse complex histories across long time-periods and to find a new approach to the drivers of geopolitics and economic transformation with historical depth in a core area of rapid change in the world today.