Lecture | Contemporary History and International Relations Research Seminar (CHIRRS), by Lydia Walker (Institute of Historical Research, London)
This chapter articulates how a set of geographies—of landscape, of power, of war, of religion, of empire, of decolonization—produced the Naga nationalist claim for an independent state at the junction of India, China, and Burma after the Second World War. The issue of a nationalist claim unrealized by decolonization’s promise of national liberation, and the questions it provokes, shows how claims by seemingly peripheral peoples challenged both their ruling state government and the increasingly anti-colonial international order of the United Nations. Seemingly marginal political claims recast large geopolitical questions because these issues focus attention on those who lack power rather than those who wield it, on those who seem to have lost their fight for independence rather than those who won. This analytical shift places so-called national ‘failures’ alongside ‘successful’ national liberation movements, successful in terms of receiving recognition of their claim of statehood.
Lydia Walker is a Past & Present Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London. She is a a historian of decolonization with a regional specialization in South Asia. Her work focuses on post-1945 political transformation, the role of non-state actors and indigenous groups in international relations, religiously infused nationalisms and activisms, as well as definitions of sovereignty. Her recent scholarship has been published in The Indian Economic and Social History Review, Past & Present, and The Washington Post. She holds a BA (Columba University), AM and PhD (Harvard University) in History.