where tomorrow’s science begins today
An Autonomous Institution, Ministry of Education, Govt. of India
Seminars and Colloquia

Humanities and Social Sciences

Culture, Ethnicity and Politics in the Indo-Myanmar highlands 
Mon, Jan 18, 2021,   12:00 PM to 01:00 PM at WEBINAR https://zoom.us/j/98057489250?pwd=SFRoWmlnck5jMzZQN3hITjM3K3ZUdz09 Meeting ID: 980 5748 9250 Passcode: 932938

Dr. G. Kanato Chophy
Centre of North-East India Studies, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar

The Indo-Myanmar frontier running into 1,643 km is one of the ethnically and culturally diverse regions of the world. Home to three major ethnic groups – the Kachin, Kuki-Chin and Naga – this mountainous region has posed a huge challenge to national integration on both sides of the international border. With regard to geopolitics, this region presents an interesting case, because it is landlocked, surrounded by the world’s largest democracy, a rising superpower led by a Communist Party government, a densely Islamic nation, and the world’s longest military-ruled country in the world. The Indo-Myanmar highland occupied by the ethnic groups (tribes), who largely converted to Protestantism in the late 19th and early 20th century, lies at the junction of East, South and Southeast Asia, forming a kind of melting pot where the culture, politics and economy of China, India, Bangladesh and Myanmar have exerted considerable influence.

The Indo-Myanmar highland remains politically significant because it poses a huge challenge to nation-state building for both India and Myanmar. The region is many things to many people: an El Dorado for anthropologists and historians; a quandary for policymakers; a whetstone for Intelligence personnel; an elusive mission for ethnonationalists; a safe passage for smugglers and drug traffickers; and still a potential mission field for missionaries. The presentation will attempt to understand the underlying socio-cultural and political processes unique to the region in the 21st century.   

Dr. G. Kanato Chophy is currently a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Centre of North-East India Studies, a Centre of Excellence (CoE), at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar. After a PhD in social anthropology from University of Delhi, he taught at the Central University of Jharkhand in Central India. His area research interests are: tribes and indigenous peoples, comparative religion, traditional knowledge system, AI and society, and public policy. He is the author of Constructing the Divine: Religion and Worldview of a Naga Tribe in Northeast India (Routledge, 2019). He has been a Fellow of the New India Foundation (NIF), Bengaluru. His upcoming book Christianity and Politics in Tribal India is slated to be published by Permanent Black and State University of New York Press (SUNY) in the summer of 2021. He is also currently an academic advisor to the Nagaland State Commission for Women (NSCW), and is a task force member of Commission for National Education Policy (NEP), Nagaland State.