Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands

An edited volume consisting of 36 chapters.

by Alexander Horstmann, Martin Saxer, Alessandro Rippa

China-Nepal border pillar in Upper Mustang. © 2015 Galen Murton


Three years in the making and published in 2018, this Routledge Handbook gives an overview of current research on Asian Borderlands. In Asia, where authoritarian-developmental states have proliferated, statehood and social control are heavily contested in borderland spaces.

The contributors to the Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands highlight some of these processes taking place at the fringe of the state. Offering an array of comparative perspectives of Asian borders and borderlands in the global context, this handbook is divided into thematic sections, including:

  • Livelihoods, commodities and mobilities
  • Physical land use and agrarian transformations
  • Borders and boundaries of the state and the notion of statelessness
  • Re-conceptualizing trade and the economy in the borderlands
  • The existence and influence of humanitarians, religions, and NGOs
  • The militarization of borderlands

Causing us to rethink and fundamentally question some of the categories of state, nation, and the economy, this is an important resource for students and scholars of Asian Studies, Border Studies, Social and Cultural Studies, and Anthropology.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Asian borderlands in a global perspective, Martin Saxer, Alessandro Rippa, and Alexander Horstmann

Part 1 Conceptual framing

1.Violence in Asian borderlands, Reece Jones

  1. Asia´s gendered borderlands, Malini Sur

  2. Intimate militarism: domesticating the border in rural Central Asia, Madeleine Reeves

  3. Borders and bordering in Asia, Karin Dean

  4. Zomia and beyond, Jean Michaud

Part 2 Livelihoods, commodities, mobilities

Introduction, Christine Bonnin

  1. Political livelihoods in northeast borderlands of Cambodia: legacy of the past, territorial incorporation, and confrontation, Frédéric Bourdier

  2. Cross-border commodities: processual histories, commodity chains, and the yak tail trade, Tina Harris

  3. Old routes, new roads: proximity across the China–Pakistan border, Alessandro Rippa

  4. Making place within a geopolitical frontier: Mae Aw (Ban Rak Thai), Carl Grundy-Warr, Jessica Teo, and Chin Wei Jun

  5. Making connectivity work: exploring cross-border livelihoods between Kazakhstan and China, Henryk Alff

  6. Ritual and issues of ethnic integration in the borderlands of the state of Rakhine/Arakan (Myanmar), Alexandra de Mersan

Part 3 Physical land use and agrarian transformations

Introduction, Jean-François Rousseau

  1. Genesis of state space: frontier commodification in Malaysian Borneo, Noboru Ishikawa

  2. Frontier constellations: agrarian expansion and sovereignty on the Indonesian- Malaysian border, Michael Eilenberg

  3. Beyond ‘natural’ pressures: Chinese agriculture in the Russian Far East, Jiayi Zhou

  4. A failed market experiment and ignored livelihoods: Jatropha expansion in the Sino–Vietnamese borderlands, Jean-François Rousseau

Part 4 Border and boundaries of the state, governance, and the production of statelessness

Introduction, Karin Dean

  1. Multiple borders and bordering processes in Kachin State, Karin Dean and Mart Viirand

  2. Turning your back to the border: federalism, rerritory, and claims for autonomy in the Nepal–India borderland, Rune Bennike

  3. A proliferation of border Interfaces: Ordering Insecurity for Migrants in the Thai–Burmese Borderlands, Adam Saltsman

  4. The Decision to Move: Post-exchange Experiences in the Former Bangladesh-India Border Enclaves, Md. Azmeary Ferdoush and Reece Jones

  5. The backdoors of resistance: Identities in the Malay Peninsula’s maritime borderlands, Maxime Boutry

  6. Ethnic reconstruction and Austronesian strategies at the borders: the Moken social space in Burma, Jaques Ivanoff

Part 5 It’s all about relations: re-conceptualizing trade and the economy in the borderlands

Introduction, Caroline Grillot

  1. Accumulating trust: Uyghur traders in the Sino-Kyrgyz border trade after 1991, Rune Steenberg

  2. The "leech plot": Discourses on alleged deception strategies among traders in the Sino–Vietnamese borderlands, Caroline Grillot

  3. Nobody stops and stays anymore: Motor roads, uneven mobilities, and conceptualizing borderland modernity in highland Nepal, Galen Murton

  4. Cultivating Consumer Markets: Ethnic Minority Traders and the Refashioning of Cultural Commodities in the Sino-Vietnamese Border Uplands, Christine Bonnin

  5. Invisible Trade: Sovereign Decisions on the Sino-Russian Border, Natalia Ryzhova

Part 6 Humanitarians, Religion and NGOs

Introduction, Alexander Horstmann

  1. Humanitarian assistance and protestant proselytizing in the borderlands of Myanmar: The Free Burma Rangers, Alexander Horstmann

  2. The moral economy of the Myawaddy-Mae Sot border, Su-Ann Oh

  3. Biosocial body of ethno-religious boundaries in a Tibetan marriage, Dan Smyer Yü

  4. Development institutions and religious networks in the Pamirian borderlands, Till Mostowlansky

Part 7 Militarization of Borderlands

Introduction, Swargajyoti Gohain

  1. Border, checkpoint, bodies, Pradeep Jeganathan

  2. Musical crossings over the militarised borderland: a case study of the Ogasawara Islands, Masaya Shishikura

  3. Evaded states: security and control in the Sino–North Korean border region, Adam Cathcart

  4. Border and road regimes in Central Asia: ordering disorder at Uzbek-Kazakh checkpoint, Rano Turaeva

  5. Bordered spaces: spatial strategies in a "disputed border", Swargajyoti Gohain

Related Events

May 2018

Asian Borderlands

A Workshop and Book Launch, Tallinn University


Book Chapter

Asian Borderlands in a Global Perspective

01 May 2018
Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands (Introduction), pp. 1-14.

Edited Volume

Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands

01 May 2018

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