PODCAST | Contested Narratives of the China-India Border Dispute

  • Monday 7 March 2016
  • S226, John Woolley Building, level 2, entry off Manning Road, University of Sydney
  • Speaker: Associate Professor Dibyesh Anand, University of Westminster


Q&A section:

A disputed Himalayan border remains a primary source of tension between the two main emerging powers in the world. Most of the scholarly writings on this border dispute are written within the top-down Realist tradition where China and India are seen as two unitary actors pursuing strategic interests. In contrast, Dr Dibyesh Anand emphasises the constructedness of the actors and their interests. He offers an understanding of the dispute as emerging from complicated relations between imperial frontier politics marked by buffer zones, postcolonial nation building where boundary lines are militarised, and regional geopolitics that involve various state and nonstate actors.

The main hypothesis is that at the heart of the impasse lies a strategic and nationalist dissonance. What India perceives as a strategic game, China sees through a nationalist lens and vice versa. For the Indians, Tibet is a strategic issue while the border dispute is an attack on the country’s national integrity; for the Chinese, Tibet is an emotive and core national interest beyond the realm of negotiation while the border dispute is a strategic issue that is open to negotiations. The contrasting place of Tibet and border dispute in Indian and Chinese strategic and nationalist narratives is the key factor behind the intractability of the border problem. The significance of this conflict for the international community in general and Asian geopolitics in particular will be discussed.

Dibyesh Anand-high resDr Dibyesh Anand is a Reader (Associate Professor) in International Relations, the Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations and Director, Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster in London. He has degrees from St Stephen’s College, Delhi University (BA History Hons), University of Hull (MA) and University of Bristol (Phd). His research focus is on the emergence of China and India as major non-Western powers. He is especially interested on China’s public diplomacy and its relation with Tibet and India, and other countries in the Himalayan region, particularly Bhutan and Kashmir. He is also interested in issues concerning Islamophobia in India, majoritarian nationalisms, politics of security and representation, ethnic relations in Zanzibar. Dr Anand is the author of monographs “Geopolitical Exotica: Tibet in Western Imagination”, “Tibet: A Victim of Geopolitics”, and “Hindu Nationalism in India and the Politics of Fear” and has published a number of chapters in edited collections and articles in journals on varied topics including Tibet, China-India border dispute, Hindutva and Islamophobia, identity politics in Tanzania, and nationalism. He is an avid Facebooker and available at www.facebook.com/dibyesh