Seminar: Mobilising bodies from Myanmar to Manipur

Wednesday, 16 October 2019, 01:00 pm — Wednesday, 16 October 2019, 02:00 pm

Location: SR202, Callaghan Campus

The Centre for 21st Century Humanities, the Space, Place and Mobilities Thematic Group and the Centre for Social Research and Regional Futures invite you to attend this informal lunch seminar with Professor Duncan McDuie-Ra.

The title of the talk is: Moblising bodies and body parts from Myanmar to Manipur: Medical connections through borderlands in 'transition'. It will be held on Wednesday 16th October 12 - 1pm in SR202, Callaghan Campus.


This paper focuses on cross-border connections between Myanmar and Manipur (India) arranged and enacted by non-state actors, particularly medical connections. Non-state actors have been instrumental in creating the networks to bring bodies and body parts back and forth, first bypassing then enmeshing state actors.

I focus on the movement of patients and medical samples across the border—from western Myanmar to Imphal city and back again—and the health infrastructure that enables it. These connections make several contributions to the study of border governance and the era of ‘transition’. First, movement is primarily from Myanmar to Manipur for treatment or diagnosis, and these connections project particular ways of thinking about each place— western Myanmar as poor and remote, Manipur as advanced and networked. Second, both Manipur and western Myanmar can be considered in ‘transition’ as territories being recalibrated by political dynamics emanating elsewhere, yet connected through shared needs. Third, patients and samples move through territories controlled by paramilitary forces, underground groups, and different tribal councils. Routes are sometimes blocked or passage treacherous, revealing the limits of conventional bilateral border governance.

Finally, cross-border medical connections between Manipur and Myanmar draw attention to the risky cross-border medical mobility of the poor. Rather than seeking to minimize cost, patients utilize Manipur’s health infrastructure out of necessity and at high financial costs, providing insights into the contours of cross-border medical care in times of transition.