Boundaries and belonging in the Indo-Myanmar borderlands: Chin refugees in Mizoram

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This article examines the reception of Chin refugees from Myanmar in Mizoram State in north-east India through the framework of boundaries and belonging. Strong historical, cultural and ethnic connections between Chin and Mizo might suggest a strong claim to belonging. This has been true to some extent but the reception of Chin in Mizoram has also been shaped by perceived otherness. This article explores the co-existing discourses of Chin as other/brother in relation to processes of boundary-making, boundary policing and boundary manipulation. It argues that these contrasting narratives illustrate a dynamic relationship between national borders and boundaries of belonging that speak to deeper truths about the legitimacy of the nation state and the role of place, politics and identity in the construction of insiders and others. This case study generates several conclusions of wider relevance to refugee studies, namely the flexibility of perceptions of belonging, the possibility of deliberately reshaping perceptions of belonging and the existence of multiple, overlapping identities (i.e. citizenship, faith, ethnicity and culture) that are accorded different weight and value at different times.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314–333
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
Issue number3
Early online date13 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018

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