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Sarai Reader 07: Frontiers


At Frontiers

Frontiers considers limits, edges, borders and margins of all kinds as the sites for declarations, occasions for conversation, arguments, debates, recounting and reflection. Our book suggests that you consider the frontier as the skin of our time and our world, and we invite you to get under the skin of contemporary experience in order to generate a series of crucial (and frequently unsettling) narrative and analytical possibilities.

For us, the frontier is a threshold waiting to be crossed, a space rife with the seductive aura of transgression. We are not talking only of actual, physical borders (though of course we are interested in literal and political borders) that are usually the residues of war, but also of the borders between different temporal registers, between languages, between different modes of action, between different bodies of thought and conviction, between the exception and the rule. Looked at this way, a border is more than a constellation of fixed markers circumscribing a domain.

We have always viewed the Sarai Reader as hospitable to new and unprecedented ideas, as a space of refuge where wayward reflections can meet half-forgotten agendas. We hope our text this year sets the stage for a productive encounter with the demand for an account of the boundaries, parameters and verges of our times.


Editors: Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Jeebesh Bagchi, and Ravi Sundaram

Associate Editor: Smriti Vohra

Translations: Shveta Sarda

Design and Cover: Mrityunjay Chatterjee

Back Cover Images: Mogas Station


The entire book can be accessed and downloaded from the Sarai archive.



At Frontiers – Editorial Collective


Narrating the Frontier: Perspectives from Kachchh – Farhana Ibrahim

Chromatic Boundaries – Paolo Novak

A Politics of Sensitivity: Ambiguity and Exceptionality along the India-Bangladesh Border – Jason Cons

At that Insurmountable Border – Sucharita Sengupta

Wagah/Wagha: India Meets Pakistan – Amar Kanwar

Transit Visa: An Essay on Code – A.J. Sood

A Strange Feeling of Familiarity – Lamia Joreige

Abkhazia: A Broken Paradise – Georgi Derluguian

Desire, Fear and Death… – Samir Chakrabarti


Counterfeit Consciousness and the Joy of Abandonment – U. Kalpagam

… And Nothing but the Truth, So Help Me Science – Lawrence Liang

Unofficial Secrets Act: The Administration of Certainty and Ambiguity – Shuddhabrata Sengupta

Dead Man Walking: Sovereignty and the Supreme Court in the Age of Terror – Mayur Suresh

The ‘Law’ of the Police – Anuj Bhuwania

The Fuzzy Logic of National Frontiers or a Frontier Nation: Reflections on the Multi-Purpose National Identity Card Scheme in India – Taha Mehmood


All in All, It’s Just Another Hole in the Wall… – Jiti Nichani + Aarti Mundkur

An Interview in the Emergency Room: A Cure in Three Stages – Aman Sethi

El Siluetazo (The Silhouette): On the Border between Art and Politics – Ana Longoni

Locating Torture in Jammu and Kashmir – Warisha Farasat

Borderless Bodies – Pramod K. Nayar


From Music to Painting: The Strange Yet Not-So-Strange Tales of Pardhaans – Udayan Vajpeyi

Ancient Geographies – New Frontiers – Anthony Acciavatti

The Folly of Maps – Jeremy Hight

Smart Borders – Guido Cimadomo and Pilar Martínez Ponce

Glamour as a Form of Culture in Post-Soviet Russia – Keti Chukhrov

One Biennial, Two Triennials, Three Interventions and Research for a Retrospective – Ruth Sacks


Betrayed Borders: Double Agents and the Crisscrossing of Conflicts – Manuel Ramos Martínez

Framing Frontiers: The Suspended Step towards Visual Construction of Geopolitical Borders – Saayan Chattopadhyay

Transitions, Transactions: Bollywood As a Signifying Practice – Pooja Rangan

Art without Frontiers? Satyajit Ray and the Constraints of Universality – Chandak Sengoopta

Miss Frontier Mail : The Film That Mistook Its Star for a Train – Rosie Thomas


The “Frontier” Revisited – Cédric Vincent Reads Lawrence Alloway

Up for Auction: A Devoted Communist’s Labour of Love – Abhishek Hazra

Frontier’s Virgule/Virgule’s Frontier – K. Narayana Chandran

The Mahimandala Gita , Chapter 66, by Arakkhita Das: Notes towards a Translation – Sailen Routray

Bhudev’s Uchronia: The Temporal Exile of the Colonised – Ritwik Bhattacharjo

“It’s Raining Aliens!” Coloured Rain in Kerala and the Fuzzy Frontiers of Science – Shiju Sam Varughese

“We Want No Flats…!” Bauwagen Culture and the ‘Desired’ Urban – Stefan Canham


Notes on the Frontiers and Borders of the Postcolony – Angela Mitropoulos

Across (B)order and Back: The Everyday Reality of Kolkata’s “Flyings” – Swati Ghosh

Between Queer Ethics and Sexual Morality – Naisargi N. Dave

South Asian “Adda ” in Barcelona – Sameer Rawal

Long-Distance Nationalism: Constructing ‘Indianness’ in American Kitchens – Ekta Ohri

Following the Black Block: Pragmatic Depression, Action and Aftermath – Sam Gould

Walking for Nandigram – Moinak Biswas

The Logbook – Sreejata Roy


Ghevra Diaries – Cybermohalla Practitioners

Photographs – Ravi Agarwal

At the Frontier of the Urban Periphery – AbdouMaliq Simone

Harmless Fraud: Pyramid Schemes in Andhra Pradesh – S. Ananth

Tophane: The Closing In of an Istanbul Neighbourhood – Pelin Tan

Moscow: Fortress City – Irina Aristarkhova

A 21st-Century Urban Landscape: The Emergence of New Socio-Spatial Formations in Gurgaon – Seth Schindler

Looking Outwards, and Outwards – Gauri Gill

Frontier Town: Marking Boundaries in a Delhi Resettlement Colony 30 Years On – Cressida Jervis-Read

Moving Cities: Life on the New Frontier – Bert de Muynck


Occupancy Urbanism: Ten Theses – Solomon Benjamin

No One Is Illegal! – Steve Cohen, Harriet Grimsditch, Teresa Hayter, Bob Hughes, Dave Landau


Contributors, Acknowledgements and Image Credits

Images: New Categories/Old Boundaries – Monica Narula and Shveta Sharda

Rokovoko – Mogas Station inside back cover