Abstract: This paper argues against the idea of modern Nepal as an exceptional island of national unity and independence in a colonial world. It takes inspiration from the work of world historians, especially the work of Jerry H. Bentley, to write connective histories of Nepal that transcend the boundaries of nations, geographical regions, disciplines, and historiographies. The Anglo-Gorkha frontier that separated the territories of the kingdom of Gorkha (present-day Nepal) and the English East India Company offers a site for such explorations. In the early nineteenth century territorial disputes broke out between the two states, ultimately culminating in the Anglo-Gorkha War of 1814–1816. A close study of the frontier and the territorial disputes reveal that they encoded disagreements over the geographical construction of the state. They also reveal a structure of shifting agrarian entitlements that created the fluid and fuzzy administrative divisions that marked the space of these borderlands. The colonial state would ultimately resolve these spatial dilemmas by undertaking surveying and mapmaking projects that would lay out linear boundaries and neatly emboxed territorial divisions to delineate the territories of the two states.
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Oct 5, 2015