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Accepted Paper:

Towards a Convivial History of Borderlands: Speculating on Dwelling, Assemblages, and Elusive State Spaces on the Anglo-Gorkha frontier, 1750-1816  
Bernardo Michael (Messiah University)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper proposes a speculative and convivial history of the Anglo-Gorkha borderlands (1750-1816) that considers the role played by non-human animals and beings. It also considers the epistemological and methodological conundrums posed by such an exercise.

Paper Abstract:

This paper explores the possibilities of writing a speculative history of the Anglo-Gorkha borderlands. It explores the tangled and conflicted histories of communities and states in the borderlands that separated the English East India Company and the Himalayan kingdom of Gorkha (present-day Nepal) during the Anglo-Gorkha War of 1814-1816. Previous studies on the war have never fully considered the role of non-human animals and beings, whose fleeting presence can be found in the historical record. The paper then employs a broader notion of dwelling that acknowledges the gap between the structure of the world (that includes non-human beings and non-living things) and the limits on human thought and language to represent it, or what Eugene Thacker has called the “nightside” or that “strange and enchanting abyss,” lying at the core of work in the humanities. Following the lead set by historians, ethnographers, and philosophers, this paper speculates that a broader multispecies notion of dwelling and assemblages might lead to writing more-than-human and anthropocentrically decentered accounts of the world. It might also yield a more convivial history of borderlands—one that points to the interconnected and interdependent co-presence of various forms of life inhabiting a world that has been historically elusive and possibly even foreclosed to the work of human thought and language. The paper will adopt a multidisciplinary perspective that draws on evidence from the historical record pertaining to the Anglo-Gorkha war while dwelling on the epistemological tight corners that an enchantment with writing convivial history necessarily entails.

Panel P196
Uncertain methods, elusive lives: exploring the methodological and relational horizons of doing research with more-than-humans
  Session 1 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -