Personal Statement:

I am interested in investigating the making and unmaking of the national belonging of a small community in North-Eastern India called the Sylhetis. The key analytic I am interested in exploring is the idea of ‘border’ in cultural arenas like food, music and memory. The current articulations and embodied ontologies of Sylhetis and their ‘belonging’ in India are produced amongst anxiety of a missing territorial ‘home’ in the new nation after the Partition of 1947. It is through examining how they navigate this liminality that I hope to ask questions about refashioned temporalities and cultural subalternity anchored in embodied and familial memories of the current Sylhetis. So drawing on histories of different ideas of border making in Assam, India I hope to ethnographically follow the migration and innovative archives of the Indian Sylhetis to see the making and unmaking of their ‘belonging’ in the Indian nation and in the troubled contours of identity politics in Assam. My major interest is in investigating culinary cultures, music, everyday practices at home, and women’s labour in sustaining the collective memory of the community.