Professor Duncan McDuie-Ra
Professor of Urban Sociology
School of Humanities and Social Science
- Phone:(02) 491 38714
Life in the borderlands
Professor Duncan McDuie-Ra examines the relationship between rural-urban space migration and the kind of world this creates, particularly in the borderlands of India.
Typically research on urbanisation focuses on mega cities such as Sydney, Rome or Delhi. However, Professor Duncan McDuie-Ra is a sociologist whose research interest lies in the smaller cities of less than a million people, as it is these cities that are growing the fastest and where the majority of people experience urban life in the Global South.
His specialty is exploring what it is like to live in smaller cities in remote areas and borderlands.
“These cities pose some very interesting challenges for how we understand urbanisation, poverty, mobility and livelihoods. Smaller cities also pose a number of things we can learn from in terms of how they are governed, organised, their use of technology and how infrastructure is deployed,” Professor McDuie-Ra said.
It’s landscapes that have always moved McDuie-Ra - for him they’re emotional and accessible. He is interested in the visual aspects of the landscape and questions the juxtapositions like little hair salons next to mechanic shops and what that means about people who migrate there.
“Why are these migrants moving there? What’s happening in their lives? How are bigger things like conflict, wars, famine, and environmental degradation rupturing the migrant’s lives? There are other forces at play too. People also move because they are attracted and have aspirations for a bigger and better life, there’s a lot that anyone can relate to in those stories,” he said.
Ever since a young age McDuie-Ra has been fascinated with frontiers and those places on a map where one country ends and another begins.
“Growing up in Australia we don't have land borders, but for me there’s something about that spot where India ends and Myanmar begins. What does that look like on the ground? What are the communities and people like between those? What can those towns tell us about borders, are they effective? Do they matter or not?” McDuie-Ra said.
He says that the region of North East India, on which he focuses, is unique because it’s outside the main national frame of India in terms of ethnic and racial destinations.
“It’s a wad of territory almost cut off from India and its borders are with other countries - it’s a classic border zone. It’s a kind of geo-political oddity that has always fascinated me and I want to understand it better in terms of the people that live there, how it’s changing, and what happens when you start connecting countries.”
Frontiers of India
His 2016 book, Borderland City in New India: Frontier to Gateway, focuses on the city of Imphal, in the state of Manipur and on the border with Myanmar. He says he was drawn to Imphal for a long time because of its history of conflict and transformation to an urban environment.
“Imphal was a frontier city, violent, dangerous and excluded from mainstream national development protocol as it was a separatist region. However in the last decade it is increasingly seen as gateway connecting India to South East Asia. The city has been transformed by an infrastructure of connectivity. We often talk about globalisation or regional integration but what it actually looks like on the ground is big roads going through the cities like Imphal,” McDuie-Ra said.
“Imphal often goes through sporadic conflict and there are times where it is blockaded from the rest of India through protests often for 3-4 months at a time. I wanted to examine how people make life in the city and how the city continues to grow despite its challenges. What drives that growth?” he questioned.
McDuie-Ra undertook much of his research on foot around Imphal, encountering people that helped to piece together the puzzle of what it was to live in the city.
“I was walking in a city where no one walks because they’re genuinely worried about safety, so it was very interesting and emotionally taxing.”
The book examines how people feel a sense of belonging in the city and neighbourhoods, control and how people live in an environment that the military has occupied for a long time and how ethnic politics plays out in the city.
“I also wrote about the growth in private schools and how this has happened because the public system is so dysfunctional. Land for the private schools is often on the outskirts of the city and it’s changing the way education works and the way parents pay for education – they have to take out loans. It’s interesting because it’s an abandonment by the people of the government provision of school because the government is so useless,” McDuie-Ra said.
Cease Fire City
Professor McDuie-Ra has a forthcoming book also focused on North East India, this time in Dimapur, which is in the Nagaland state next to Manipur.
The book, Cease Fire City – militarism, capitalism and urbanism in Dimapur is co-authored by Dr Dolly Kikon from the University of Melbourne. Following on from Borderland City in New India: Frontier to Gateway, the authors apply a lot of the same questions to Dimapur, however Dimapur is unique because it has gone through 20 years of cease-fire negotiations.
“Dimapur is interesting because it’s a commercial capital of a region that fought a long separatist war with India. The Naga Homelands Movement fought against the Indian government and in 1997 there was a cease-fire. The reason the book is called Cease Fire City is because they haven’t yet come to a final peace agreement,” McDuie-Ra said.
The book questions how do cities grow when they’ve been through conflict and suddenly have peace? McDuie-Ra says the subtitle, Militarism, Capitalism and Urbanism refers to the fact that Dimpur is still a very militarised city with a huge Indian Army presence.
Capitalism refers to how business has grown since the cease-fire and what money making opportunities have flowed since then. The authors also examine how the conflict itself bought people to the city seeking safety and how the cease-fire has solidified their residence.
“That led us to look at urbanisation – how the city is making itself more city like. It was a collection of settlements, bases and supply colonies that is now trying to be governed and look more like a city. The Indian government is starting to fund local councils, but it’s a complicated urban environment because it’s Indigenous land, so there is a complex legal arrangement and pockets of different governance and territorial control.”
In terms of research methodology, in Dimapur McDuie-Ra spent less time talking to people and more time taking photos and asking locals about the images.
“Communicating through image was a bit easier. Rather than trying to establish a common terminology, I found that if we had images to refer to we could be quite specific about what it was and what they meant.”
The book is due to be released in late 2019 with Oxford University Press.
Professor Duncan McDuie-Ra examines the relationship between rural-urban space migration and the kind of world this creates, particularly in the borderlands of India.Typically research on urbanisation focuses on mega cities such as Sydney, Rome or Delhi. However, Professor Duncan McDuie-Ra…
I joined University of Newcastle in 2019 as Professor of Urban Sociology after more than a decade at UNSW Sydney where I was a Professor (2016-18), Associate Professor (2013-15), Senior Lecturer (2010-12) and Lecturer (2007-10); all in Development Studies. I also served a term as Associate Dean Research in the Faculty of Arts at UNSW (2013-2016).
My research focuses on 'emerging urban forms': towns, cities and industrial zones undergoing rapid growth or slated for new interventions, especially digital and networked infrastructure.
Most of my research has been in South Asia, particularly the borderlands of Northeast India, with collaborative work in other contexts. I have also worked on race and ethnicity in South Asia, frontiers, concrete, migration (especially youth migration from the borderlands) extractive industries and communities, intellectual property and urban space, and various other inter-connected themes.
I skateboard daily and fall often.
I hold a number of editorial roles with journals and book series:
I am a member of the Asian Borderlands Research Network committee.
Two of my monographs with Amsterdam University Press have been made open access under the EU's OAPEN program:
And some of my shorter pieces are available open-access too:
- Doctor of Philosophy, University of New South Wales
- Master of Arts(Politics & International Relations), University of New South Wales
- Digital Urbanism
- Environmental Justice
- Gender and Masculinity
- Piracy and Fakes
- Race and Ethnicity
- South Asia
Fields of Research
|441016||Urban sociology and community studies||30|
|440408||Urban community development||40|
|Title||Organisation / Department|
|Professor of Urban Sociology||University of Newcastle
School of Humanities and Social Science
|Professor of Urban Sociology||University of Newcastle
School of Humanities and Social Science
|Dates||Title||Organisation / Department|
|30/10/2013 - 30/6/2016||Associate Dean Research, Faculty of Arts||UNSW
Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
|1/1/2016 - 1/2/2019||Professor of Development Studies||UNSW
|1/1/2013 - 31/12/2015||Associate Professor of Development Studies||UNSW
|1/7/2010 - 31/12/2012||Senior Lecturer in Development Studies||UNSW
|1/1/2008 - 30/6/2010||Lecturer in Development Studies||UNSW
For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.
Book (7 outputs)
McDuie-Ra D, Skateboarding and Urban Landscapes in Asia: Endless Spots, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 232 (2021)
|2020||Kikon D, McDuie-Ra D, Ceasefire City: Militarism, Capitalism, and Urbanism in Dimapur, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 284 (2020)|
Williams M, McDuie-Ra D, Combatting Climate Change in the Pacific, Springer International Publishing, New York (2018)
McDuie-Ra D, Borderland City in New India: Frontier to Gateway, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam (2016)
|Show 4 more books|
Chapter (22 outputs)
|2021||McDuie-Ra D, 'Smart Enclaves in the Borderland: Digital Obligations in Northeast India', Development Zones in Asian Borderlands, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam (2021)|
|2021||McDuie-Ra D, 'Race in Contemporary India', Routledge Handbook of Race and Ethnicity in Asia, Routledge, New York (2021)|
|2020||McDuie-Ra D, 'Globalization', Sociologic Analysing Everyday Life and Culture, Oxford Univesity Press, Melbourne 216-230 (2020)|
McDuie-Ra D, 'Embracing or Challenging the Tribe ? Dilemmas in Reproducing Obligatory Pasts in Meghalaya', Landscape, Culture, and Belonging Writing the History of Northeast India, Cambridge University Press, New Delhi 66-86 (2019) [B1]
|2017||McDuie-Ra D, Robinson D, 'Pirate places in Bangkok: IPRs, vendors and urban order.', Property, Place and Piracy, Routledge, London 202-217 (2017)|
McDuie-Ra D, 'Solidarity, Visibility and Vulnerability: Northeast as a Racial Category in India.', Northeast India A Place of Relations, Cambridge University Press, New Delhi 27-44 (2017)
|2016||McDuie-Ra D, 'Cosmopolitan Tribals: frontier migrants in Delhi', The Scheduled Tribes and Their India Politics, Identities, Policies, and Work, Oxford University Press, New Delhi 597-618 (2016)|
McDuie-Ra D, 'Children and Civil Society in South Asia: Subjects, Participants and Political Agents', Children and Violence, Cambridge University Press, New Delhi 46-61 (2016)
McDuie-Ra D, 'Insecurity Within and outside the state: The regional and local dynamics of environmental insecurity in the mekong', Human Security: Securing East Asia's Future 115-134 (2012)
Environmental security has become perhaps the most prominent of the seven aspects of human security conceived by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in 1994 (UNDP 1994 )... [more]
Environmental security has become perhaps the most prominent of the seven aspects of human security conceived by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in 1994 (UNDP 1994 ). As environmental issues have risen in importance in global politics environmental security has become a cornerstone of thinking and policy making in the spheres of development, security, and international cooperation. Despite the strong rhetorical commitment to environmental norms from governments, international organizations, and various non-state actors, environmental degradation continues to produce insecurity for vast numbers of people, and East Asia is no exception. This chapter examines the dynamics of environment insecurity in the Mekong region; specifi cally in the lower Mekong states of Cambodia , Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR hereafter), and Vietnam . The region has been selected owing to the extent of environmental change occurring in the last 20 years as post-Cold War economic, political and social relationships have transformed the region. The Mekong provides a compelling example of the various extra-regional and intraregional dynamics shaping the production of environmental insecurity at the inter-state, national, and local levels.
|Show 19 more chapters|
Journal article (40 outputs)
McDuie-Ra D, 'The Ludic Lives of Memoryscapes: skateboarding post-Soviet peripheries', Memory Studies, 1-17 (2021)
McDuie-Ra D, 'Mobilizing bodies and body parts from Myanmar to Manipur: medical connections through borderlands in transition', MODERN ASIAN STUDIES, 55 (2021)
Chettri M, McDuie-Ra D, 'Delinquent Borderlands: Disorder and Exception in the Eastern Himalaya', Journal of Borderlands Studies, 35 709-723 (2020)
McDuie-Ra D, Ho EL-E, Jakimow T, Somaiah BC, 'Collaborative ethnographies: Reading space to build an affective inventory', Emotion Space and Society, 35 1-10 (2020) [C1]
McDuie-Ra D, Gulson K, 'The Backroads of AI: The Uneven Geographies of Artificial Intelligence and Development', AREA, 52 626-633 (2020) [C1]
McDuie-Ra D, 'Chasing the Concrete Dragon: China s Urban Landscapes in Skate Video', Space and Culture, 1-14 (2020)
McDuie-Ra D, Chettri M, 'Concreting the frontier: Modernity and its entanglements in Sikkim, India', POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY, 76 1-28 (2020) [C1]
McDuie-Ra D, Lai L, 'Smart Cities, Backward Frontiers: digital urbanism in India s north-east', Contemporary South Asia, 27 358-372 (2019) [C1]
Kikon D, McDuie-Ra D, 'English-Language Documents and Old Trucks: Creating Infrastructure in Nagaland's Coal Mining Villages', South Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies, 40 772-791 (2017)
|2017||McDuie-Ra D, 'Learning to Love the City in Northeast India', IIAS Newsletter, 77 29-32 (2017)|
McDuie-Ra D, 'Adjacent identities in Northeast India', Asian Ethnicity, 17 400-413 (2016)
McDuie-Ra D, Kikon D, 'Tribal communities and coal in Northeast India: The politics of imposing and resisting mining bans', Energy Policy, 99 261-269 (2016)
McDuie-Ra D, 'Is India Racist?: Murder, Migration and Mary Kom', South Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies, 38 304-319 (2015)
After the 2012 Olympics, Bronze Medal-winning boxer Mary Kom achieved national celebrity status in India. As a member of the Kom tribe, a Tibeto-Burman community from the Northeas... [more]
After the 2012 Olympics, Bronze Medal-winning boxer Mary Kom achieved national celebrity status in India. As a member of the Kom tribe, a Tibeto-Burman community from the Northeast region, she has come to represent a region long considered, and self-identifying, as outside the boundaries of the Indian nation. The same week that Mary Kom returned from London, thirty thousand Northeast migrants fled Indian cities fearing racially-motivated attacks. The socalled 'exodus' provoked rare conversations on racism within India. During this crisis, the figure of Mary Kom was invoked continually to challenge the existence of racism in India and posit paths to better integration in India's cities. These conversations paid little attention to the brutality perpetrated by the Indian state and military in the Northeast itself and the voices that publicised this brutality. Thus, while Mary Kom has come to represent a Northeast that Indians can embrace, figures such as dissident Irom Sharmila represent a Northeast that Indians wish to forget.
Pearson M, Zwi AB, Buckley NA, Manuweera G, Fernando R, Dawson AH, McDuie-Ra D, 'Policymaking 'under the radar': A case study of pesticide regulation to prevent intentional poisoning in Sri Lanka', Health Policy and Planning, 30 56-67 (2015)
Background Suicide in Sri Lanka is a major public health problem and in 1995 the country had one of the highest rates of suicide worldwide. Since then reductions in overall suicid... [more]
Background Suicide in Sri Lanka is a major public health problem and in 1995 the country had one of the highest rates of suicide worldwide. Since then reductions in overall suicide rates have been largely attributed to efforts to regulate a range of pesticides. The evolution, context, events and implementation of the key policy decisions around regulation are examined. Methods This study was undertaken as part of a broader analysis of policy in two parts - an explanatory case study and stakeholder analysis. This article describes the explanatory case study that included an historical narrative and in-depth interviews. Results A timeline and chronology of policy actions and influence were derived from interview and document data. Fourteen key informants were interviewed and four distinct policy phases were identified. The early stages of pesticide regulation were dominated by political and economic considerations and strongly influenced by external factors. The second phase was marked by a period of local institution building, the engagement of local stakeholders, and expanded links between health and agriculture. During the third phase the problem of self-poisoning dominated the policy agenda and closer links between stakeholders, evidence and policymaking developed. The fourth and most recent phase was characterized by strong local capacity for policymaking, informed by evidence, developed in collaboration with a powerful network of stakeholders, including international researchers. Conclusions The policy response to extremely high rates of suicide from intentional poisoning with pesticides shows a unique and successful example of policymaking to prevent suicide. It also highlights policy action taking place 'under the radar', thus avoiding policy inertia often associated with reforms in lower and middle income countries.
Pearson M, Zwi AB, Rouse AK, Fernando R, Buckley NA, McDuie-Ra D, 'Taking stock-what is known about suicide in Sri Lanka: A Systematic review of diverse literature', Crisis, 35 90-101 (2014)
Background: Suicide is and has been a major public health problem in Sri Lanka and has generated a wide range of literature. Aims: This review aimed to systematically appraise wha... [more]
Background: Suicide is and has been a major public health problem in Sri Lanka and has generated a wide range of literature. Aims: This review aimed to systematically appraise what is known about suicide in Sri Lanka. The patterns and content of articles were examined and recommendations for further research proposed. Method: The paper describes the systematic search, retrieval, and quality assessment of studies. Thematic analysis techniques were applied to the full text of the articles to explore the range and extent of issues covered. Results: Local authors generated a large body of evidence of the problem in early studies. The importance of the method of suicide, suicidal intention, and the high incidence of suicide were identifi ed as key foci for publications. Neglected areas have been policy and health service research, gender analysis, and contextual issues. Conclusion: The literature reviewed has produced a broad understanding of the clinical factors, size of the problem, and social aspects. However, there remains limited evidence of prevention, risk factors, health services, and policy. A wide range of solutions have been proposed, but only regulation of pesticides and improved medical management proved to be effective to date.© 2014 Hogrefe Publishing.
McDuie-Ra D, 'The India-Bangladesh Border Fence: Narratives and Political Possibilities', Journal of Borderlands Studies, 29 81-94 (2014)
The fencing of the India-Bangladesh border mirrors Scott's understanding of "final enclosure" wherein "distance-demolishing technologies" and "modern... [more]
The fencing of the India-Bangladesh border mirrors Scott's understanding of "final enclosure" wherein "distance-demolishing technologies" and "modern conceptions of sovereignty" converge to demarcate firm boundaries of territory from previously ambiguous space (Scott, J. 2009. The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Southeast Asia, 11. New Haven: Yale University Press). This paper examines the different narratives surrounding the fence at the national level in India and in the borderland itself, focussing on the state of Meghalaya. These narratives reveal the ways the border fence is discussed and understood and the political positions taken on the fence in these different spaces. In examining these I present two key findings. The first is that the border fence is narrated and politicized differently at the national level and in the borderland. The second is that within the borderlands there is not a singular "borderland narrative" of the fence but several, reflecting dominant political positions already entrenched and new ways of articulating insecurity being brought by fence construction; though the former is more prominent than the latter. © 2014 © 2014 Association for Borderlands Studies.
McDuie-Ra D, 'Ethnicity and place in a 'disturbed city': ways of belonging in Imphal, Manipur', Asian Ethnicity, 15 374-393 (2014)
This article explores the relationships between ethnicity, place and belonging in the city of Imphal, capital of the state of Manipur in India's Northeast border region. Mani... [more]
This article explores the relationships between ethnicity, place and belonging in the city of Imphal, capital of the state of Manipur in India's Northeast border region. Manipur has experienced decades of conflict from ethno-nationalist separatism, inter-ethnic territorial disputes and counter-insurgency operations. These ethnic conflicts play out on the urban landscape of Imphal. Control of the city from above is diffused among the civilian government and the armed forces. Non-state actors such as insurgent groups and ethnic organizations exert their own control from below. On such unstable ground, struggles by residents seeking to create place and a sense of belonging affirm ethnic boundaries. These boundaries are not static and the lines between inclusion and exclusion are continually redrawn along existing and emerging fault-lines among the population. Yet these boundaries are also transcended in unusual ways that may seem trivial but in Imphal are essential to realizing alternative ways of belonging. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.
McDuie-Ra D, Robinson D, Kaewmahanin J, 'Spatial dysfunction in post-tsunami Baan Lion: Taking the Moken beyond vulnerability and tradition', Geoforum, 48 145-155 (2013)
This article focuses on the perpetuation of discourses of vulnerability and tradition for Moken people living on the Andaman Coast in Thailand. These discourses limit opportunitie... [more]
This article focuses on the perpetuation of discourses of vulnerability and tradition for Moken people living on the Andaman Coast in Thailand. These discourses limit opportunities to see Moken agency and changes to contemporary livelihoods/lifestyles. This is depicted through the lens of the post-tsunami reconstructed village of Baan Lion on Koh Phra Thong island. We highlight that inappropriate donor reconstruction has led to spatial dysfunction for the local community (largely Moken). The village provides limited opportunity for place-making, connections to employment and trade, and some of the social benefits offered in other nearby local settings. While donors may have 'built back safer', we argue that they have not 'built back better', as their perception of local needs, livelihoods and lifestyle has not accounted for changes to contemporary Moken life that have occurred prior to and after the 2004 tsunami. The results are a largely depopulated and dysfunctional space whereby NGO and tourism activities are now trying to build a new sense of community and provide some opportunities to retain at least some of the transient population of Baan Lion. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
McDuie-Ra D, 'Beyond the 'Exclusionary City': North-east Migrants in Neo-liberal Delhi', Urban Studies, 50 1625-1640 (2013)
Scholars have noted the ways in which Delhi's transformation into a global city has enclosed urban spaces excluding the urban poor, labourers and migrants. One of the neglect... [more]
Scholars have noted the ways in which Delhi's transformation into a global city has enclosed urban spaces excluding the urban poor, labourers and migrants. One of the neglected aspects of this focus is the way in which Delhi's transformation has created new opportunities for migrants from north-east India. This article is an ethnographic account of migrants from the north-east in Delhi. It is argued that employment opportunities in the neo-liberal spaces of the global city are fuelling a rapid increase in migration from the north-east, the very limit of India's geographical and cultural imaginary. Outside these spaces of economic inclusion, north-east migrants continue to live as exceptional citizens and experience racism, discrimination and violence. The experiences of north-east migrants in Delhi suggest that the exclusionary city narrative is an incomplete view of urban change in India, and reveal how neo-liberal transformation is connecting heartland cities to frontier regions in ways previously unimagined. © 2012 Urban Studies Journal Limited.
McDuie-Ra D, 'Being a tribal man from the North-East: Migration, morality, and masculinity', South Asian History and Culture, 4 250-265 (2013)
In this article I analyse the ways masculinity is expressed among tribal migrants from the Northeast frontier of India living in Delhi. Unlike many other groups in India who have ... [more]
In this article I analyse the ways masculinity is expressed among tribal migrants from the Northeast frontier of India living in Delhi. Unlike many other groups in India who have long histories of migration and return within and outside the country, tribal migration out of the Northeast in large numbers is a recent phenomenon. Furthermore, men and women are migrating out of the Northeast in more or less equal numbers. Masculinity is being reshaped through the displacement of men from the environment where masculinity is reproduced, by the changes in gender relations brought about by the displacement of both men and women from this same environment and by the ways tribal men find new ways to express what it means to be a tribal man as urban dwellers, the latter captured in the shift from majority community back home to a distinct minority community in Delhi. In analysing these dynamics I argue that migration challenges the masculine norms of home. At home tribal masculinity is reproduced in an environment of insurgency and ethno-nationalist politics, whereas in Delhi it is difficult to enact masculinity in the same way. Despite these challenges, tribal men do find ways to express their masculinity in Delhi. Responding to racism, discrimination and minority status has shaped an urban masculinity that enables tribal men to find new ways of expressing what it means to be a tribal man. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.
Mcduie-Ra D, 'The Politics of Postcolonialism: Empire, Nation and Resistance.', ASIAN STUDIES REVIEW, 36 593-594 (2012)
McDuie-Ra D, 'The 'north-east' map of Delhi', Economic and Political Weekly, 47 69-77 (2012)
Migration from the north-east frontier to Indian cities has increased rapidly in the last decade. Limited livelihood prospects, changing social aspirations and sporadic armed conf... [more]
Migration from the north-east frontier to Indian cities has increased rapidly in the last decade. Limited livelihood prospects, changing social aspirations and sporadic armed conflicts push migrants out of the region. Experiences of racism, violence and discrimination are crucial in shaping their lives. But this paper challenges the notion that north-easterners are solely "victims of the city". Instead it analyses the ways in which they create a sense of place through neighbourhoods, food, faith, and protest. This "north-east map of Delhi" allows the migrants to survive the city and to construct a cosmopolitan identity at odds with the ways they are stereotyped in the Indian mainstream.
McDuie-Ra D, 'Cosmopolitan tribals: Frontier migrants in Delhi', South Asia Research, 32 39-55 (2012)
Based on fieldwork, this article examines various aspects of tribal migration from the Northeast frontier of India to Delhi, a phenomenon which increased rapidly in the last half ... [more]
Based on fieldwork, this article examines various aspects of tribal migration from the Northeast frontier of India to Delhi, a phenomenon which increased rapidly in the last half decade or so. This offers insights into four important interlinked processes. First, such migration indicates significant changes taking place in the Northeast itself. While many migrants leave the region to escape conflict, many more simply seek to find work, pursue education and fulfil changing aspirations. Second, tribal migration to Delhi reveals the ways in which the city itself has been changing. While tribal migrants search out employment opportunities in neoliberal capitalist spaces, employers in such spaces have specific reasons to desire tribal labour, particularly in shopping malls and call centres. Third, tribal migrants encounter racism and discrimination in Delhi and their experiences reveal how racial issues function and are debated today within India. Fourth, tribal migrants themselves embody the dramatic discord between the ways tribals see themselves and the ways they are perceived in India. © 2012 SAGE Publications.
McDuie-Ra D, 'Violence Against Women in the Militarized Indian Frontier: Beyond "Indian Culture" in the Experiences of Ethnic Minority Women', Violence Against Women, 18 322-345 (2012)
Violence against women (VAW) in India is commonly attributed to an overarching metacultural patriarchal framework. Focusing on this national culture of violence obscures the exper... [more]
Violence against women (VAW) in India is commonly attributed to an overarching metacultural patriarchal framework. Focusing on this national culture of violence obscures the experiences of VAW among ethnic minority women. This article focuses on VAW in Northeast India, a region populated by large numbers of Scheduled Tribes with different cultural norms, and where society has become militarized by ongoing insurgency and counterinsurgency. Though tempting, militarization alone is not a sufficient explanation for VAW; instead, this article focuses on the interplay between nonfamilial and familial contexts in creating a "frontier culture of violence" in which VAW is experienced and contested. © The Author(s) 2012.
McDuie-Ra D, 'Leaving the Militarized Frontier: Migration and Tribal Masculinity in Delhi', Men and Masculinities, 15 112-131 (2012)
In this article, the author examines the challenges to masculinity prompted by migration from the Northeast frontier of India to the capital city Delhi. Northeast India has been c... [more]
In this article, the author examines the challenges to masculinity prompted by migration from the Northeast frontier of India to the capital city Delhi. Northeast India has been characterized by insurgency, counterinsurgency, and ethno-nationalism since Indian Independence in 1947. In this militarized environment, masculinity has been shaped by historical constructions of a warrior past fused with contemporary constructions based on ethno-nationalism and armed struggle. A dramatic increase in migration out of the region by young men and women to the urban centers of India to work in the retail and call center industries poses a major challenge as it ruptures the masculine norms of home. In response, men attempt to enforce these masculine norms with varied results. At the same time, new expressions of masculinity are evolving alongside conventional expressions demonstrating the fluidity of masculinity even among men from a region where masculine norms appear rigid. © The Author(s) 2012.
McDuie-Ra D, 'Tribals, migrants and insurgents: Security and insecurity along the India-Bangladesh border', Global Change, Peace and Security, 24 165-182 (2012)
The fencing of the India-Bangladesh border suggests finality in the territorial partitioning of South Asia. This article examines the converging and competing narratives surroundi... [more]
The fencing of the India-Bangladesh border suggests finality in the territorial partitioning of South Asia. This article examines the converging and competing narratives surrounding the fence at the national level in India and in the borderland itself, focussing on the federal state of Meghalaya. From this comparison two main arguments are made. First, at the national level, narratives around migration, national security, counterinsurgency and trade underpin a powerful logic that is difficult to contest. By contrast, in Meghalaya the narratives are less cohesive and the logic of the fence is far more contingent on local politics. Second, not only is there a difference between the ways the fence is viewed at the national level and in the borderland, but there is differentiation within the borderland itself. These narratives provide insights into the different ways borders, citizenship and insecurity are viewed and politicised in contemporary Asia and beyond. © 2012 Taylor & Francis.
McDuie-Ra D, 'The dilemmas of pro-development actors: Viewing state-ethnic minority relations and intra-ethnic dynamics through contentious development projects', Asian Ethnicity, 12 77-100 (2011)
Studies of ethnic minority peoples in Asia have long focussed on the relations between ethnic minority communities and the modern state and on the role of development in shaping t... [more]
Studies of ethnic minority peoples in Asia have long focussed on the relations between ethnic minority communities and the modern state and on the role of development in shaping these relations. This paper is concerned with how ethnic minorities respond to the state-led development. While there are numerous studies focussing on the collective agency of ethnic minorities opposing development projects, few studies consider the agency of pro-development actors. Pro-development actors are usually dismissed as co-opted, manipulated, inauthentic, or elite-driven, yet they can offer crucial insights into understanding state-ethnic minority relations and particularly intra-ethnic minority relations. This paper concentrates on pro-dam actors from the Lepcha minority in the Indian state of Sikkim to make four interlinked arguments. First, examining prodevelopment actors breaks the homogenous view of state-ethnic minority relations and shifts the focus to intra-ethnic relationships. Second, collective agency of ethnic minorities is not fixed in a particular relationship with the state nor does it have a particular position on development. Third, the long-term experience of development is vital in understanding how ethnic minorities manoeuvre and alter their position on contentious projects. Lastly, analysis of pro-development actors creates major dilemmas for researchers which are not easily overcome. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.
McDuie-Ra D, Rees JA, 'Religious actors, civil society and the development agenda: The dynamics of inclusion and exclusion', Journal of International Development, 22 20-36 (2010)
This article uses the World Bank's engagement with religious actors to analyse their differentiated role in setting the development agenda raising three key issues. First, en... [more]
This article uses the World Bank's engagement with religious actors to analyse their differentiated role in setting the development agenda raising three key issues. First, engagements between international financial institutions (IFIs) and religious actors are formalised thus excluding many of the actors embedded within communities in the South. Secondly, the varied politics of religious actors in development are rarely articulated and a single position is often presented. Thirdly, the potential for development alternatives from religious actors excluded from these engagements is overlooked, due in part to misrecognition of the mutually constitutive relationship between secular and sacral elements in local contexts. © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
McDuie-Ra D, 'Fifty-year disturbance: The armed forces special powers act and exceptionalism in a South Asian periphery', Contemporary South Asia, 17 255-270 (2009)
McDuie-Ra D, 'Vision 2020 or re-vision 1958: The contradictory politics of counter-insurgency in India's regional engagement', Contemporary South Asia, 17 313-330 (2009)
Insurgency in Northeast India has long been explained as an outcome of poverty and isolation that in turn produces further poverty and militancy. In order to break this cycle and ... [more]
Insurgency in Northeast India has long been explained as an outcome of poverty and isolation that in turn produces further poverty and militancy. In order to break this cycle and achieve 'peace and prosperity', the Indian Government released North Eastern Region Vision 2020 in July 2008 - a comprehensive policy agenda to achieve 'peace and prosperity' in the Northeast. This is to be realised through deeper economic and political engagement with neighbouring countries and a 'paradigm shift in development strategy' that will be simultaneously more participatory and more infrastructure intensive. This paper argues that in practice the political manifestations of increased regional engagement are contradictory. Each measure designed to break the region's isolation is countered by measures to maintain control of borders, trade, and the movement of people. At the heart of this new development vision is a re-visioning of counter-insurgency underpinned by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (1958). Far from signalling a new era in the region, the measures contained in this new development vision appear more likely to exacerbate the grievances of people in the region and reinforce the ways the region has been governed through five decades of counter-insurgency. © 2009 Taylor & Francis.
McDuie-Ra D, 'The constraints on civil society beyond the state: Gender-based insecurity in Meghalaya, India', Voluntas, 18 359-384 (2007)
The role of civil society is vital for politicizing, contesting, and addressing human insecurity, yet there is very little analysis of the ability of civil society actors to do so... [more]
The role of civil society is vital for politicizing, contesting, and addressing human insecurity, yet there is very little analysis of the ability of civil society actors to do so. Recent critical approaches to the concept have questioned the tendency to view civil society as an unequivocal good, yet the majority of these critiques still focus on civil society at a global level or on the enabling and disabling capacity of the state at the national level. This paper argues that civil society is constrained not only by the state but by local government and other actors from within civil society. Identity politics, power relations, and existing inequalities between and within communities affect the ability of formal and informal organizations to contest the causes of insecurity. This paper examines the role of civil society in addressing gender-based insecurity in the Indian state of Meghalaya to demonstrate the influence of these factors on civil society and concludes by arguing that civil society is a much more dynamic and contradictory sphere than is often recognized by both advocates and critics. These dynamics must be understood if the constraints on civil society are to be transcended. © International Society for Third Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2007.
McDuie-Ra D, 'Civil society organisations and human security: Transcending constricted space in Meghalaya', Contemporary South Asia, 15 35-53 (2006)
This paper examines the limitations on civil society organisations (CSOs) in India's Northeast, specifically the state of Meghalaya, and suggests some strategies they must pu... [more]
This paper examines the limitations on civil society organisations (CSOs) in India's Northeast, specifically the state of Meghalaya, and suggests some strategies they must pursue to overcome them. The majority of literature concerning the Northeast tends to focus on national security, insurgency and violence, with a limited analysis of the role of CSOs and the human security of people living in these circumstances. CSOs in the Northeast face restrictions from above by the central government and the military, and from below by insurgent organisations and ethno-nationalist movements; in other words, by civil society itself. While the struggle for autonomy and rights in the Northeast looks set to continue, the effectiveness of CSOs is being further jeopardised as they are caught between these more powerful actors. The functioning of CSOs is being curtailed, and the lives and needs of people living between these poles are being neglected. Using Meghalaya as an example, this paper discusses the consequences for human security and the limitations faced by CSOs operating in the region. The paper argues that, in order to more effectively empower the people in the region, CSOs need to transcend co-optation from above and below, and focus on local human security issues rather than nationalist or ethno-nationalist agendas.
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Other (2 outputs)
McDuie-Ra D, McDuie-Ra D, 'Borderland City in New India: frontier to gateway', (2016)
McDuie-Ra D, McDuie-Ra D, 'Northeast Migrants In Delhi: Race, refuge and retail', (2012)
August 13, 2020
October 25, 2019
Professor Duncan McDuie-Ra
Professor of Urban Sociology
School of Humanities and Social Science
College of Human and Social Futures