Date of Submission



This thesis is about contemporary identity and developmental politics in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh. Based on ethnographic research among the Pangkhuas, one of the twelve marginal ethnic groups living here, the thesis examines the everyday forms of identity and developmental practices in relation to a continuous hegemonic articulation of the state’s presence in this geopolitical margin. The central methodology of the research has been multi-sited ethnography characterized by anti-essentialism. A number of key themes and issues are explored in this thesis. First, the process of state hegemony is examined with a focus on its extraordinary articulation of nationalistic imaginations about communities living in the CHT and its colonial genealogy. Second, I argue that displacement is the most compelling norm of settlement in the CHT where the enclosure by the state has politically reproduced the settlement patterns of the region. Third, the complex and ingrained forms of identity construction among the hill communities are examined, explaining how identities are constantly reconfigured by the people themselves or by the State’s attempts to conscript them into governmental nomenclature. Fourth, I explain how the Pangkhuas, as well as other marginal communities in the CHT, become subjects of a developmental pedagogy that identifies their own tradition and culture as a barrier to their progress. Fifth, the thesis discusses a certain cultural politics of turning the communities from ‘fugitives’ to ‘citizens’ who have historically resisted political conscription by the state. I argue that a political process of conversion and cooption reproduces the Pangkhuas as ‘secondary citizens’ of a liberal nationstate. Sixth and finally, I illustrate how the Pangkhuas encounter the hegemonic enclosure of the state both through dissident and resilient strategies in relation to political strategies of other CHT communities in general, who tend to seek a future in the global alliance of the indigenous people confronting the hegemony of nationstates.


School of Arts

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


220 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Education and Arts


Research Location