Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sen on Terra Nullius in the Andamans

Uditi Sen, Hampshire College has published "Developing Terra Nullius: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Indigeneity in the Andaman Islands" in Comparative Studies in Society and History 59:4 (2017), 944-73. Here is the abstract: 
This article explores the legal structures and discursive framings informing the governance of one particular “backward” region of India, the Andaman Islands. I trace the shifting patterns of occupation and development of the islands in the colonial and postcolonial periods, with a focus on the changes wrought by independence in 1947 and the eventual history of planned development there. I demonstrate how intersecting discourses of indigenous savagery/primitivism and the geographical emptiness were repeatedly mobilized in colonial-era surveys and postcolonial policy documents. Postcolonial visions of developing the Andaman Islands ushered in a settler-colonial governmentality, infused with genocidal fantasies of the “dying savage.” Laws professing to protect aboriginal Jarawas actually worked to unilaterally extend Indian sovereignty over the lands and bodies of a community clearly hostile to such incorporation. I question the current exclusion of India from the global geographies of settler-colonialism and argue that the violent and continuing history of indigenous marginalization in the Andaman Islands represents a de facto operation of a logic of terra nullius.
Further information is available here