Lines of (In)Convenience: Sovereignty and Border-Making in Postcolonial South Asia, 1947–1965

Elisabeth Leake, Daniel Haines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
509 Downloads (Pure)


Border studies in South Asia privilege everyday experiences, and the constructed nature of borders and state sovereignty. This article argues that state elites in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan during the 1950s-60s actively pursued territorial sovereignty through border policy, having inherited ambiguous colonial-era frontiers. Comparing security and development activities along the Durand Line, between Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the better-known case of India and Pakistan’s ceasefire line in Kashmir, the article demonstrates that the exercise of sovereignty required a bounded space that only borders could provide and a rejection of competing border zone authorities. The local specificity of each border, however, created the historical conditions in which political elites acted. Combining an archival history methodology with conceptual insights from political geography and critical international relations, the article uses an original integration of two important Asian border spaces into one analysis in order to highlight tensions between sovereignty’s theory and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)963-985
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Asian Studies
Issue number4
Early online date20 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Environmental Humanities


  • Afghanistan
  • Boarders
  • Conflict
  • India
  • international relations
  • Pakistan
  • South Asia
  • Sovereignty
  • Territoriality


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