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Md Azmeary Ferdoush (Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Oulu, Finland)
After almost seventy years of stateless existence, the former enclave residents of Bangladesh and India were recognized as citizens for the first time in 2015. Enclaves were small pieces of Bangladesh’s territory inside India and vice versa. Since an international border separated the enclaves from their home states, their residents ended up being stuck in a country that did not recognize them as citizens. However, after enclaves were exchanged in 2015, their residents were accepted as regular citizens of the host states. Drawing on the newly incorporated citizens’ experiences, interviews with numerous state officials, and field observation, I contend that the Bangladesh state took extraordinary measures to incorporate the new citizens. Such exceptional arrangements, I argue, cannot be fully grasped with the existing vocabulary of citizenship. Thus, I introduce the concept of “showcase citizenship” to refer to a category of citizens who are exceptionally treated by the state in ensuring that they get access to and enjoy the rights that come with the identity of being citizens. At the same time, the state uses such citizenship as a means to conceal the unequal treatment of its other citizens and the structural violence fashioned by numerous state apparatuses. Consequently, I argue that showcase citizenship is an informal and intentional creation of the state which is used to produce and foster an image of a caring state that actively helps all of its citizens irrespective of their socio-economic and political conditions. In reality though, it does not.
About the speaker
Azmeary Ferdoush is a postdoctoral researcher in geography at the University of Oulu, Finland. His research focuses on borders, (non)citizenship, territory, nationalism, and state. Regionally, though he has predominantly focused on South Asia (specifically Bangladesh), his recent works explore the transformation of borders and borderland communities in the Finnish Arctic. Azmeary is co-editor of Borders and Mobility in South Asia and Beyond that came out in 2018 from Amsterdam University Press. His works have appeared in journals such as Antipode, Political Geography, Geopolitics, Area, and Ethnography. Before moving to Finland, Azmeary taught as a Lecturer at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh and at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, USA. He is a recipient of several (inter)national awards and honours including, East-West Center Graduate Degree Fellowship, American Association of Geographers Dissertation Research Grant, Jagdish P. Sharma Memorial Scholarship by the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and Dean’s Award at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
To know more about his research, please visit https://www.azmearyferdoush.net/
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