People Make Their Own Map: Citizenship and Belonging in South Asia
204 Maxwell Hall
Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs
South Asia Center
their own map: Citizenship and belonging in South Asia
A Book Talk with Suchitra Vijayan
India is a land of borders, its peripheries nestling against seven countries. Over seven years, across 9,000 miles, Suchitra Vijayan travelled these borderlands. The more she travelled, the clearer it became to her that local history and memory bear no resemblance to the political history of the nation that claims these lands and peoples. From the densely populated border that India shares with Bangladesh to the highly disputed one with Pakistan, the stories in this book engage with how people live, struggle, fight and survive. A man escapes the floodlights that invade his home by blocking out all light, children use a border pillar as a handy cricket stump, and a family live out their lives beside the men who orchestrated their son’s death. These are stories that question our ideas of what freedom means and what it means to be a citizen.
Suchitra Vijayan was born and raised in Madras, India. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, GQ, The Boston Review, The Hindu, and Foreign Policy. A Barrister by training, she previously worked for the United Nations war crimes tribunals in Yugoslavia and Rwanda before co-founding the Resettlement Legal Aid Project in Cairo, which gives legal aid to Iraqi refugees. She is an award-winning photographer, the founder, and executive director of the Polis Project, a hybrid research and journalism organization. Her book Midnight's Borders: A People's History of Modern India was published to critical acclaim in the United States in May 2021.
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