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4 - Reading the Border

Gazetteers, Tribute Missions, and the Problem with Goats

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 January 2021

Kyle J. Gardner
Affiliation:
George Washington University, Washington DC
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Summary

The fourth chapter focuses on two different ways of “reading” the landscape of the northwestern Himalaya. The first evolved from the surveying and road-building practices discussed in Chapters 2 and 3: practices which resulted in an increasingly standardized body of environmental knowledge that was widely circulated through gazetteers, route books, and intelligence reports. But there is also a second way of reading the Himalayan landscape: one that emerged from earlier precolonial modes of seeing, discussed in Chapter 1. Jurisdictional problems between the imperial state and its Himalayan frontier–including disputes over taxation, water rights, territory, and grazing rights–produced deep uncertainty about the limits of frontier locales. In fact, the main challenge to the imperial vision of the would-be border came from an unlikely source: pashmina goats. By illustrating the emergence of a geographical episteme illustrated in gazetteers and other official publications, I show how information about borders, terrain, and geographical features became a necessary prerequisite for understanding political territory. This episteme, I argue, reveals the slow emergence of geopolitical thinking. But the utility of this form of thinking was consistently undermined by the multiple modes through which indigenous groups conceived of the space around them.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Frontier Complex
Geopolitics and the Making of the India-China Border, 1846–1962
, pp. 133 - 178
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Reading the Border
  • Kyle J. Gardner, George Washington University, Washington DC
  • Book: The Frontier Complex
  • Online publication: 21 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108886444.006
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Reading the Border
  • Kyle J. Gardner, George Washington University, Washington DC
  • Book: The Frontier Complex
  • Online publication: 21 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108886444.006
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Reading the Border
  • Kyle J. Gardner, George Washington University, Washington DC
  • Book: The Frontier Complex
  • Online publication: 21 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108886444.006
Available formats
×