Asian Borderlands Research Network


The conference program and book of abstracts is available now! See the presentation guidelines for more information on the panel and roundtable formats.

The Keynote speech will be delivered by Dr Madeleine Reeves (University of Manchester, United Kingdom)

Life Enclaved: On Entrapment and the Imagination in Exceptional Space
As parts of one state that are enclosed within the territory of another, enclaves present a challenge to state space imagined in terms of contiguity and indivisibility. Political discourse often casts enclaves as particularly dangerous and aberrant forms of space: as threats to national sovereignty and territorial integrity to be contained through vigilance and control. Scholarly literature on South and Central Asia, meanwhile, has examined enclaves primarily as geopolitical ‘anomalies’ that shed light on the ambiguous nature of postcolonial territory (Raballand 2005, Jones 2010, Cons 2014). Comparatively less attention has been given to the particular texture of social life in such politicised space, or to the forms of practical and ethical reasoning that emerge when questions of state sovereignty and its entailments are woven into the minutiae of daily conversation and are implicated in the everyday obstacles of reaching kin across the border. Drawing upon ethnography from Sokh, one of the Ferghana valley enclaves, I explore the ways in which the virtues and demands of a mobile life are debated in a context of circumscribed trans-boundary movement. Enclave life, I suggest, is characterised by a dynamic imagination of life ‘outside’, one that takes in Dubai and Moscow, Los Angeles and Tashkent. Through this ethnographic case, I seek to explore the dynamic relation between entrapment and the imagination, and the implications of this relation for the comparative anthropology of borderlands.

Madeleine Reeves is a Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester and Editor of Central Asian Survey. She is the author of Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia (Cornell, 2014) and co-editor, most recently, of Affective States: Entanglements, Suspensions, Suspicions (Berghahn 2017, with Mateusz Laszczkowski). Her interests lie in questions of spatial politics and the state, mobility and immobility, ethics and labour. She has published extensively on the navigation of new international borders in Central Asia, on migration between Kyrgyzstan and Russia, and on the politics of conflict prevention in the Ferghana valley. She has previously taught at the American University - Central Asia (2000-2002) and the University of Cambridge (2005-7).