Photo: Dolly Kikon



Living with Oil and Coal: Resource Politics & Militarization in Northeast India

The Nineteenth-century discovery of oil in the eastern Himalayan foothills, together with the establishment of tea plantations and other extractive industries, continues to have a profound impact on the region. In the Indian states of Assam and Nagaland, everyday militarization, violence, and the scramble for natural resources regulate the lives of Naga, Ahom, and Adivasi people, as well as migrants from elsewhere in India and Nepal, as they struggle to find peace and work. In this in-depth ethnography, I address the complexity of Northeast India, an area between Southeast Asia and China where boundaries are made, disputed, and maintained. bringing a fresh and exciting direction to borderland studies, I explore the social bonds established through practices of resource extraction and the tensions these relations generate, focussing on peoples’ love for the landscape and for the state, as well as for family, friends, and neighbors. This book illuminates questions of citizenship, social justice, and environmental politics that are shared by communities worldwide.

Ceasefire City: Militarism, Capitalism, and Urbanism in Dimapur (co-authored with Duncan McDuie-Ra)

Ceasefire City aims to capture the dynamics of Dimapur by bringing together the fragmented sensibilities granted and contested in particular spaces in the city and the embodied experiences of the city by its residents. The first part of the book talks about military presence, capitalist growth, and urban expansion in Dimapur through an analysis of its spatial politics, and the second part, through collaborative ethnographic exercises, focuses on the relationship between the lived realities and the meanings that are forged around the city.

Leaving the Land: Indigenous Migration and Affective Labor (co-authored with Bengt G. Karlsson)

During the last decade, indigenous youth from Northeast India have migrated in large numbers to the main cities of metropolitan India to find work and study. This migration is facilitated by new work opportunities in the hospitality sector, mainly as service personnel in luxury hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and airlines. Prolonged armed conflicts, militarization, a stagnant economy, corrupt and ineffective governance structures, and the harsh conditions of subsistence agriculture in their home villages or small towns impel the youth to seek future prospects outside their home region. English language skills, a general cosmopolitan outlook as well as a non-Indian physical appearance have proven to be key assets in securing work within the new hospitality industry. Leaving the Land traces the migratory journeys of these youths and engage with their new lives in cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram.

Life and Dignity; Women’s testimonies of Sexual Violence in Dimapur (Nagaland)

Dolly manages to show how the Indian state is deeply implicated in escalating the culture of sexual violence and impunity in Nagaland by extending the fields that feminists in conflict regions have explored to date. The arc of violence now must be seen to extend from a militarised nation and a militarised region downwards to the constituent units upon which its edifice is located: home, family and community. This is a book that deserves the widest reading; it will make us all think about impunity in multiple ways and perhaps help to widen the resistance that we must spearhead in seeking a more just acknowledgment of the harm women and men experience when they are sexually assaulted. — Uma Chakravarti, feminist historian.

Experiences of Naga Women in Armed Conflict: Narratives from a Militarized Society

This book details the experiences of Naga women located in the most protracted of armed conflict situations in northeastern India. It highlights women’s deep but understated participation in the struggles of the Naga people and the memories and pain that such struggles have entailed.