Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 October 2014
This article studies the impact of the creation of a new state in northern India through an analysis of space. The space under consideration is the town of Gopeshwar, which serves as the administrative headquarters of a district in the state of Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand was created as a distinct Himalayan state in 2000 after a prolonged period of mass agitation to this end. The movement for statehood had emphasized historical neglect coupled with exploitation of the mountains of Uttarakhand by the plains. Beginning with an analysis of the town plan, this article moves on to describe how this place is made into a space by everyday practices. In particular it concentrates on the narratives of agents of the state who express a longing to escape this ‘remote’ town. Through an interrogation of the trope of remoteness, this article argues that the creation of the new state has served, ironically enough, to accentuate the traditional characterization of the Himalaya as a backward, inferior space within India.
Acknowledgements: This article began life as the first chapter of my PhD thesis and has, hence, not only gone through multiple iterations but has also been read and/or heard by numerous people. Thanks are due to Amita Baviskar, Franck Bille, James Laidlaw, Sian Lazar, Tapsi Mathur, Perveez Mody, Sara Shneiderman, and audiences at the universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh, and the London School of Economics and Political Science. I am particularly grateful to David Sneath for his constant enthusiasm for this piece, and to Veena Das and the anonymous reviewers at Modern Asian Studies for pushing me to arrive at the point.
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