Concreting the frontier: Modernity and its entanglements in Sikkim, India

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Abstract

Sikkim is a geopolitically sensitive frontier state in India sharing borders with Bhutan, China and Nepal. As distinctions between urban and rural dissolve across the Himalaya, concrete narrates the transformation of these landscapes and the assemblages that hold them together. Using Cloke and Jones's (2001) notion of ‘dwelling’ we explore Sikkim's concrete manifested in tourism, hydropower and housing to make four arguments. First, concrete is central to the way development is conceived and enacted in Sikkim and offers a critical reading of the ways landscape is imagined, reproduced and politicised. Second, concrete foregrounds the ways peoples' aspirations are materialised in the built environment of a ‘remote’, yet geopolitically significant territory. Third, concrete is an integral component of Sikkim's political culture, part of the assemblage of incongruent elements that undergird the state's dependency. Finally, concrete has further entangled Sikkim within India, producing a loyal border state out of a recently independent polity.

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McDuie-Ra, D., & Chettri, M. (2020). Concreting the frontier: Modernity and its entanglements in Sikkim, India. Political Geography, 76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2019.102089

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