‘Northeast’ or ‘North East’ or elsewhere ‘North-East’ India is a non-cartographical, non-existent ideological construct that defies all types of socio-cultural and geo-political theoretical paradigms for reading the location as a demographic whole producing all undisputed facets of ethnicity, identity and literature. Rather the name itself brings the notion of ‘non-name’ attributing to a location allied with the mainland India by a chicken’s neck manifesting simultaneously the notions of non-identity or non-substantiality of geographical nomenclature. Within the ambit of the larger context of India and Indian nationalist politics, Northeast India as a location incorporating seven different states demarcated with less viable line of control itself problamatises the very notion of national identity being alienated from the entire ‘mainland’ India. The region, likewise, with marked distinction vis-à-vis the endless separatist and sovereignty movements, festering conflicts, ethnic moorings and idiosyncratic cultural traits with the tummy-part of the mainland India demands fastidious negotiation corresponding to the politics of identification and social positioning.
Since the time of inception of India’s independence, the Northeast India has been seen as the epicenter of all sorts of ethnic violence and separatist movements leading to the establishment of sovereign communal territories and separate statehood. Whenever the discourse of polyethnicism or ethnic dialogism is articulated within the context of multiculturalism in a globalised world, Northeast India definitely can catch the lion’s part of attention of people around the world with its tangled mass of ethnic communities and hilly tribes across the entire region. It is basically the decisive consequences of polyethnicism that has conscientiously stimulated the ever widening framework of armed action, insurrectionary campaigns along with ethnic contention or rivalry within the region and which, in turn, has impelled to formulate innovative discourse of ethnicity and governmental policies. Till to the time of British invasion and withdrawal to the present intimidating situation, the entire Northeastern region has undergone many phases of ethnic cleansing and ethnic reformation manifesting the still persisting greater identity politics in this marginalized region.
However, despite such identical ethnic violence and other insurgency movements in all the seven states of the region, Northeast India equally holds our consideration as a unique geographical area incorporating indistinguishable cultural forms and manifestations basically in the areas of literature, folklore and customary practices. The basic reason of using the metonym ‘Northeast’ instead of the other with break in between or the hyphenated one mentioned at the beginning is hence purely ideological corresponding to irrevocable and equally identical cultural productions and practices.
Ethnicity, Identity and Literature: Reading Literatures from Northeast India is a schematic study of multifaceted dimensions of the trilogy namely ethnicity, identity and literatures in Northeast India – a marginalized zone of multihued ethno-linguistic and cultural identities along with a scrambled accumulation of identical oral and literary traditions and other cultural production. The basic intend behind writing this book is to afford a panoramic view of Northeastern literatures with novel theoretical paradigm and subsequent critical insight incorporating a wide variety of primary fictional, non-fictional along with assorted poetic voices from the region. The essays included in the volume are largely dealing with the downtrodden issues and the ensuing anguish perceptible in the socio-cultural arena of all the seven states of Northeast.
All the essays were previously published in reputed international and national journals published from India and abroad, of which the present essays are far more enlarged and edited ones. All the essays are comparatively attributed to investigate the published fictional narratives and poems of reputed literary artists with some novel theoretical paradigms and acquired insights as a Northeastern in terms of identical literary and socio-cultural traits and distinctiveness. Whereas the essay on the socio-political experience and narratives of violence accentuates the notions of bothered periphery and ethnic violence along with consequent cultural productions as manifestations of the socio-political arena of the region, the other one attributed to the study of the selected poetic voices of violence and the terror lore simultaneously draws attention to the articulation of the trauma of insurgency and ethnic conflict in more introspective manner than the prosaic one. Both the essays are more or less dealing with the nature of violence and atrocities along their artistic documentations resulted out of some undisputed sources sovereignty movements and ethnic assertion of all the seven problem children of the region. The ethnic assertion which is the root of many separatist insurrectionary wars and the resulting identity politics of the entire region need ardent pensive scrutiny so as to understand the intrinsic bond between ethnicity and identity in this region. The need is thoroughly fulfilled by the two essays written on queer ethnicity and cultural alienation. Both the essays have incorporated a wide variety of theoretical paradigms derived from the thoughts of the thinkers like Bakhtin, Ramanujan, Appadurai, Bhabha, Spivak and so on and have used meticulously in reading both fictional and poetic narratives. Other two essays included in the volume are comprised with different artistic tastes as both are internally unique and thought provoking in terms of subject matter and the provincial contexts of initial production. The essay on the Karbis of Assam studies the pressure of cultural expulsion and the role of memory and orality in constituting identity and belonging in the crossroads of history and thereby provides a theoretical critical context for thinking about other ethnic communities of the region experiencing same trend of cultural deterioration and negotiation. The essay along with its visionary gleam simultaneously presents us the epistemic value of cultural negotiation in terms of re-membering the past and folk traditions for an ethnic community lost in the crossroads harsh parody of lived history and time respectively. The growing materialism and the impacts of globalization are thoroughly felt by all such ethnic communities of the region. The budding concern for re- negotiation between the anthropocentric and ecocentric thoughts and ideas as coterminous to each other is a prime consequence of that those effects. The essay on the ecocritical reading of some selects fictional narratives along with the dialectic of anthropocentrism and ecocentrism is truly vindicated in this regard. The essay is an epistemic effort to revitalize the notion of environmental ethics in a world steadily devoid of all sorts of ethics and morality.
I am truly thankful to Mr. Binay Sharma for his kind assistance in publishing the book through his renowned publishing company namely DVS publication. I am wholeheartedly indebted to Prof. Dipankar Purkayastha sir, to whom the book is dedicated, for his kind supports in those times when I sank into the abyss of intellectual block. He with his great talent has shared with me various facets of ethnicity, narrative and multiculturalism with special reference to Northeast India which were previously not known to me. I too sincerely acknowledge my obligation to the Vasubandhu Library of CIHCS for providing me various materials in writing this regards. My endearing thanks also go to my parents, brother & sister-in-law and my loving wife for their mental support in this regard.