Borders Performed
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The Line of Control stretches for over 435 miles, separating the deserts, pas-
tures, peaks and valleys that India holds from those controlled by Pakistan.
Carved into the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges, it designates most of
the western and northwestern boundaries of the State of Jammu and Kash-
mir, where Ladakh is politically located. Drawn and redrawn by battles and
treaties, the line is identifiable by traces of blood, bullets, watchtowers, and
ghost settlements left from recurring wars between India and Pakistan. On
international maps, it appears as a sequence of ellipses, the breaks in form
symbolic of the rupture between the two neighboring nations as well as their
troubled but shared histories.
For many of us who were educated in India, the Line of Control was not
an obvious spatial marker. On the maps we drew in geography classes, the
borders were undisputed and clear. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, we were
taught, did the territorial sovereigntyof India extend. Kashmir was the popu-
lar abbreviation for the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The name of Ladakh,
the State’s largest region, did not feature anywhere on our maps.
By erasure or inclusion, the Line of Control (loc) has been materially and
ideologically resurrected in systems of education, discourses of development
and defense, and strategies for organizing government and managing citizens
in the homeland. This book redirects standard plots about the loc that are
transmitted through national imaginaries and state practices by placing cen-
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