Dilip Gogoi, Making of India’s Northeast: Geopolitics of Borderland and Transnational Interactions

AuthorRajan Kumar
Published date01 October 2021
Date01 October 2021
Subject MatterBook Reviews
International Studies
58(4) 539 –542, 2022
© 2021 Jawaharlal Nehru University
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DOI: 10.1177/00208817211045239
Book Review
Dilip Gogoi, Making of India’s Northeast: Geopolitics of Borderland
and Transnational Interactions (South Asia Edition) (Oxon:
Routledge, 2020), 275 pp. Rs.995, ISBN 978-0-367-89832-8.
‘Southeast Asia begins where Northeast India ends’. This statement justifies
interrogating India’s Northeast borderland as a sub-state region in International
Relations (IR). Conventionally, the sub-state region barely gets an adequate
attention owing to the overt domination of systemic and state-centric approach in
IR theories (p. 1). Consequently, the sub-state region is relegated to the margin
in the study of a state’s foreign policy, giving primacy to national over regional
interests. In this context, Dilip Gogoi’s Making of India’s Northeast attempts to
bring forward the unexplored new frontier of enquiry by taking up Northeast
India’s transborder interactions with the neighbouring regions. It views the
subject from an IR perspective, and within a broader context of India’s foreign
policy. This book is a timely study of geopolitics in South and Southeast Asia. It
analyses the geopolitical behaviour of the proximate states over Northeast
borderland and explains the way actors shape the dynamics of conflict and
cooperation of a sub-state region. The book’s main contribution is its analysis of
the geopolitics of region-making processes, and situating the Northeast in the
larger regional framework.
The book adopts two theoretical perspectives of IR to explain how states
behave and impact the sub-state region, particularly in India’s Northeast and its
interactions with the neighbouring region of China, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
First, it examines the influence of geopolitics and national security and the way it
shapes a sub-state region from the realist perspective of IR; second, it highlights
the present status of transnational interaction—Look East through Northeast from
the perspective of the liberals in the IR. The study argues that the partition of India
disconnected Northeast India from the transborder markets that existed during the
colonial times. Partition of India severed the economic ties, trade routes,
transportation links, markets and cultural exchanges between the Northeast and
the neighbouring regions. Most importantly, the book argues that the linkages
between the region and the Chittagong port, historically the ‘gateway for the
region to the East and South East Asia’, were lost.
Highlighting the present limitations of both the realist and liberal state strategies
to overcome the geopolitical bottleneck of the region, the author takes the help of
a constructivist worldview. The author argues that by adopting a constructivist

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