While India has been a popular subject of scholarly analysis in the past decade, the majority of that attention has been focused on its major cities. This volume instead explores contemporary urban life in a smaller city located in India's Northeast borderland at a time of dramatic change, showing how this city has been profoundly affected by armed conflict, militarism, displacement, interethnic tensions, and the expansion of neoliberal capitalism.
"In this outstanding book, McDuie-Ra lays bare the dynamics of Imphal, the capital city of Manipur in North East India. It is a city of contradictions-disturbed, sensitive, fragmented, yet also a nexus of liberalization, a corridor to Southeast Asia, and a locus of development. Through a brilliant spatial ethnography, McDuie-Ra takes us inside this fraught space, outlining the dilemmas and possibilities of everyday life, the contradictions and erosions of rule, and the confused dynamic of transition from unruly frontier to gateway city. In doing so, he offers a theoretically nuanced and empirically dynamic study of urbanization in one of India's most critical yet little-understood borderlands." -- Jason Cons, University of Texas and author of 'Sensitive Space: Fragmented Territory at the India-Bangladesh Border'
"Imphal is a sensitive space with high density of danger and opportunity. Heterogeneity of race, class, creed, and conviction, defines the city, and trajectories of wealth and poverty develop in a context of identity politics and claims to rights, of law, illegality, violence, and exclusion. With a subtle sense of humour, and fine sensibility to scale, Duncan McDuie-Ra, analyses Imphal's transformation from an unruly frontier town in Northeast India to a market gateway to China, Burma, and beyond. The cast is a motley crew. Politicians and shop owners, insurgents and soldiers, public intellectuals, cinema celebrities and 'ordinary folk', young women in yellow and purple nurses' uniforms and young men with spiked hair, all aspire to make the most of the contingency of change. The book captures not merely the unique flavour of Imphal but equally the generic zest of urban space in the global south." -- Christian Lund, University of Copenhagen and author of 'Local Politics and the Dynamics of Property in Africa'