Despite an official designation to become a wildlife sanctuary, Changthang situated on the India-China border in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, continues to persist as a periphery of intense securitization, mass tourism, rising conflict and large-scale deployment of military infrastructure. Using a frontier lens, in this essay I demonstrate how characteristic power disparities prefigure in all the social interactions that have occurred from casting Changthang as a trade frontier in precolonial times to its present-day status as a conservation frontier. While challenging the claims to ‘close’ the frontier, the chapter highlights how the new democratic ecological paradigm reproduces Changthang as an internal frontier that regurgitates the power disparities through manipulation by the governing elite and valorization of Changpa pastoralists in the reformist ecological agenda. By aiding to investigate Changthang as a cyclical frontier that is made and unmade in keeping with the expansion and contraction of the state as well as changing demands for its commodities, the frontier analytic argues for a transformative paradigm of thinking and acting on Changthang that is neither ecological nor economic.
|Title of host publication||Routledge Handbook of Critical Kashmir Studies|
|Editors||Mona Bhan, Haley Duschinski, Deepti Misri|
|Place of Publication||United States|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 2021|