Remote Pathways: The Non-Peripheries at the Edge of Nation-States


Talk at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Abstract

The concept of centre and periphery remains highly influential in the Social Sciences. In its various iterations, ranging from world systems theory to development studies, it has shaped a mental map of how the world is spatially structured. The traditional, rural, pristine, and poor periphery is juxtaposed with the modern, urban, polluted, comparatively rich, and cosmopolitan core. The concept lends itself well to a variety of analytic endeavours, including rural-urban migration, asymmetric power relations between countries or regions, or transnational connections between borderlands.

For certain geographical configurations, however, neither periphery, nor centre – nor any point along the axes between them – provides a useful description. Taking the Himalayan valleys of Northern Nepal as a vantage point, I propose the concept of pathways as analytical approach to such non-peripheries at the edge of nation states. I suggest a rotation of gaze by 90 degrees in order to trace connections and highlight spatial relations that centre/periphery thinking tends to overlook.

(Source: ARI Website)