Exorcisms: Xenophobia, citizenship, and the spectre of Assamese nationalism

Bhagabati, Dikshit Sarma (2021) Exorcisms: Xenophobia, citizenship, and the spectre of Assamese nationalism. Jindal Global Law Review, 12 (1). pp. 171-203. ISSN 09752498

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I have received xenophobia and ethno-majoritarianism in the same nationalist legacy that ignites solidarities for collective subversion. Here, I explore my experiential heritage of Assamese nationalism via some personal sketches, involving people I have met and grown close to in different walks of life. I employ a psychoanalytical lens to contemplate the symbolic underpinnings of sublime patriotic imageries and therapeutically express the traumatic effects of hating Bangladeshi immigrants. Each section opens with a popular song that was freshly reimagined during the 2019 antiCitizenship Amendment Act protests. First, I argue that Bangladeshis, as signifers of death, kill the Assamese subjectivity while staging a cause to become Assamesein the first place. Their presence represents our inability to recoup Assam’s many losses, inducing melancholic helplessness in the ethnos. Second, I illustrate how middle-class households internalise certain immigrants as domestic helps, appropriating their emotional and material labour in private to claim hegemony in public politics. Third, I demonstrate why Assam is doomed to extinguish its revolutions before they happen. Our nationalism is stuck in a pre-oedipal mess, too infantile to be anything but fearful of whatever seems like a threat to the motherland. Finally, I end on the future anterior that nurses the present with the assurance of uniting with the homeland despite all odds. That our citizenship robs immigrants of theirs, then erecting a mirror showing our own reflections as impossible citizens, is what I wish to portray here.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Assam Agitation | Assamese nationalism | Mass psychology | Xenophobia | Melancholia
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Human Rights
Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Sociology
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Shilpi Rana
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2021 11:16
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2022 11:22
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s41020-021-00147-4
Additional Information: Many thanks to Prof. Oishik Sircar for his insightful comments, without which this piece would have been trapped in a block of convolutions and haphazard thoughts. I also owe my sincerest gratitude to the anonymous reviewer for their suggestions and the editors of this journal for co-labouring in equal measure with me to refine, revise, and produce the final draft.
URI: https://pure.jgu.edu.in/id/eprint/81


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