Games of Life and Land: A Comparative Analysis of the Origins of True Enclaves in South and Central Asia, Their Impacts on Public Policy, and

Games of Life and Land: A Comparative Analysis of the Origins of True Enclaves in South and Central Asia, Their Impacts on Public Policy, and

by Glen R. Hamburg


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Games of Life and Land: A Comparative Analysis of the Origins of True Enclaves in South and Central Asia, Their Impacts on Public Policy, and by Glen R. Hamburg

Previous works discussing the enclaves shared between India and Bangladesh, or the enclaves of Central Asia, have centered primarily on their historical origins and on their inhabitants' living conditions. This monograph briefly reviews these works while making a comparison between the enclaves of the two regions. It then adds to the existing literature with an argument that international enclaves stymie the expressed and assumed development interests of both India and Kyrgyzstan. Finally, it considers potential explanations for the continued existence of enclaves in both South and Central Asia, despite the harm these geographical features surely cause for their 'owning' states and peoples. The work follows research conducted by the author as a Visiting Research Scholar at the Institute of Foreign Policy Studies at the University of Calcutta, and precedes a separate comprehensive study of public service delivery in the Kyrgyz exclave village Barak conducted by the author with the support of the United Nations Development Programme later in 2013.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789383649006
Publisher: Sun Links Ltd
Publication date: 01/15/2014
Pages: 90
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.22(d)

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Games of Life and Land

A Comparative Analysis Of The Origins Of True Enclaves In South And Central Asia, Their Impacts On Public Policy, And Factors Prolonging Their Existence

By Glen R. Hamburg

KW Publishers Pvt Ltd

Copyright © 2014 Institute of Foreign Policy Studies (IFPS) and Centre for Pakistan and West Asian Studies (CPWAS)
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-93-83649-00-6


Defining Terms Through Comparative Geography

* * *

Nearly everything about the places discussed in this paper seems contested, from the exact number of enclaves in South and Central Asia to the number of people who live in them, from their historical origins to the motives which keep them alive. Even the definition of the word enclave seems up for debate.

Take for example descriptions of the tiny yet independent European state of San Marino, which is entirely surrounded by the territory of Italy. For decades San Marino has been casually referred to in the media and by scholars of varying disciplines as an "enclave" (Panico, 2009, p. 403; The Globe and Mail, 1982, p. 11; The New York Times, 1959, p. 38). So has the independent state of Lesotho, a sovereign kingdom which lies fully within the territory of South Africa, by Reina (1993, p. 26) and Epprecht (1995, p. 323) more recently. The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, a portion of sovereign Azerbaijan, is physically separated from its "home country" and sandwiched between the territories of Armenia, Turkey, and Iran. In reporting on the development of West Asian energy infrastructure in 2010, the Xinhua News Agency termed this obscure piece of land an "enclave" as well. Other places which are detached from their country's principal territory, yet not entirely landlocked, have even been referred to as "enclaves," such as Spain's Melilla (Cembalest, 1997, p. 9), the United States' Point Roberts (McAllister, 1996, p. A3), and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast (Das Kundu, 2003, p. 626).

Geographers, however, should and generally do use the term more judiciously, ascribing to it a particular definition that sets true enclaves apart from these only similar situations. And a distinction between such cases really does matter, especially in comparative analyses of the opportunities and challenges that a location's political geography poses to the people who live in it, to the officials who govern it, and to the foreign neighbours who surround or sit beside it.

Consider Melilla, which clings to the northern rim of the African continent some 60 kilometres south across the Mediterranean Sea from the Spanish "mainland" (The Economist, 2002). The territory shares a land border only with Morocco (see Map 1 of the Maps Annex). But because Melilla also has a coastline, its residents, goods, and resources can transit easily by ferry to their country's principal territory in Europe without crossing any troublesome international boundary. This is a critical detail. Spain is not reliant on Morocco to grant it access to its territory, as it might be if Melilla was entirely encased within foreign Moroccan lands. With direct access to the sea, Melillans and their Spanish government need not necessarily be concerned with how the government of Morocco might choose to restrict the transit of people and goods, say, with punitive immigration or customs policies. They could simply go around.

Lesotho, shown in Map 2, does not have such geographic luxury and nor do the two other countries in the world, San Marino and the Vatican City, whose total territory is completely surrounded by that of just one other state. Farran (1955) only alludes to these countries' potential vulnerability, but it should be quite apparent. A "host state" could choose to restrict the movement of goods, services, and people across its lands to any state lying within its outer boundaries, thus compelling the inner states to rely on their host's benevolence so as not to be the victim of a kind of blockade.

Cobbe (1988) considers such possibilities in his review of the history of economic relations between Lesotho and surrounding South Africa. He notes that with Lesotho's heavy reliance on income from migrants working in South African mines in the 1970s and 1980s, and with its reliance on imported goods originating from or at least transiting through South Africa, changes in South Africa's immigration or customs policies could have had dramatic effects on Lesotho's economy. From this perspective, policymakers in Lesotho at the time would likely have been advised to maintain good relations with South Africa in order to ensure their country's economic prosperity, given its political geography.

Yet Cobbe also points out that Lesotho's position "is to some extent a vulnerability that is so total as to be unexploitable by [the South African capital] Pretoria" in practice (p. 76), arguing that any major disruption in the economy of Lesotho by South Africa could cause hardship and instability that eventually spills over into South African territory. Indeed, a host must be wary that another state within its territory does not fester into a blister.

Now to Nakhchivan in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is a separated subnational unit of the sovereign state of Azerbaijan, just as Melilla is of Spain. It is also similar to Lesotho because it is entirely landlocked. But Nakhchivan differs from both these cases in its number of foreign neighbours, which in turn affects its residents' and its country's well-being. As Map 3, Nakhchivan is bordered by Iran and Turkey to the southwest and cleaved from its "homeland" by Armenia — a country Azerbaijan is still technically at war with (Hoggarth, 2012) — to the northeast. One might assume Nakhchivan's physical separation from principal Azerbaijani territory (by a hostile neighbour, no less) and its landlocked position would present certain difficulties for its residents and the Azerbaijani state. In fact, the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs admits that it does (Republic of Azerbaijan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, n.d.). Though as Baghirov (2012) counters, its geopolitical position could also present certain opportunities to Azerbaijan as well. The territory after all acts as a kind of satellite, allowing the rest of the country better access to foreign markets such as Turkey, which the principal territory of Azerbaijan does not share a common border with (Efendiev, 1999;, 2012; Republic of Azerbaijan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, n.d.).

Melilla, Lesotho, and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic are no doubt curious instances of political geography which pose unique challenges and opportunities to their residents, economies, and governments. They are, however, not what are termed by geographers as true enclaves. Nor are San Marino or the Vatican City, or even Point Roberts or Kaliningrad Oblast (see Maps 4, 5, and 6). Rather, as the geographers Farran (1955), Vinokurov (2007), van Schendel (2002), and Whyte (2002) explain, a true enclave is a piece of one state's territory entirely surrounded by the territory of just one other state. Nakhchivan is not an enclave because it is bordered by more than one foreign state. It is an exclave of Azerbaijan, though, because it is physically detached from its country's principal territory and can only be accessed from elsewhere in Azerbaijan after crossing at least one international boundary (Vinokurov, 2007). Lesotho is referred to as an enclaved state and not a true enclave because all, instead of just a portion, of its sovereign territory is surrounded by South Africa. Lastly, Melilla is neither an enclave nor an exclave because it is not surrounded by the territory of another state, and therefore can be accessed from the Spanish mainland without crossing any international boundary.

These definitions and conventions are used here in this paper in order to highlight and more effectively compare the unique circumstances of true enclaves in two regions of Asia. Such an approach will help demonstrate that it is the particular positioning of these areas — that is, being physically separated from home territory and completely enclosed in the territory of one foreign state — which creates great adversity for some, but also some lucrative advantages for others which inevitably prolong their existence. Note that all true enclaves (from here forward simply "enclave") are by definition also exclaves with respect to their home state. For example, Barak, the piece of sovereign Kyrgyz territory inside of Uzbekistan, is termed an exclave of Kyrgyzstan because it is separated from its home country's principal territory. But it is also an enclave of Uzbekistan, the country which surrounds it. This paper uses either the term enclave or exclave as appropriate given the syntactical circumstance.


Locating and Counting Case Study Enclaves

* * *

At the foot of the Himalaya, tea plantations slope into a disorientingly vast expanse of swampy rice and jute fields. Tigers are said to lurk in the nearby forests, mosquitoes swarm the heavy skies. It is here, along the southern edge of a thin stretch of Indian land separating Bhutan from Bangladesh, that you will find the world's largest collection of true enclaves (Map 7). The majority of these enclaves are exclaves of India surrounded by Bangladeshi territory and the rest are Bangladeshi exclaves surrounded by Indian territory.

Perplexingly though, while the location of each enclave is fully known, charted, and recognised by the Indian and Bangladeshi governments (Jones, 2009; van Schendel, 2002; Whyte, 2002), the exact number of enclaves is regularly misreported. In fact Whyte (2002) chronicles two dozen different counts by researchers, journalists, and government officials between the years 1936 and 2001. But the misreporting has continued since, with both Ghosh (2013) and Sarkar (2013) erroneously citing 111 Indian exclaves in Bangladesh and 51 exclaves of Bangladesh in India. Poplin (2013) finds just 102 Indian and 71 Bangladeshi exclaves, while The Economist (2011) claims there to be a combined total of 201.

To be clear, there are 106 Indian exclaves inside of Bangladesh and 92 Bangladeshi exclaves surrounded by the Indian state of West Bengal, for a total of 198 true enclaves between the two countries (Jones, 2009, p. 373; Vinokurov, 2007, p. 24; Whyte, 2002, p. 6).

Whyte (2002) considers the miscounts to originate in a confusion between the word "enclave" and the native terms for local administrative units, such as "chhitmahal," which may encompass multiple separate enclaves or divide a single enclave. The others' figures may also come from a misunderstanding of the provisions of related land transfer agreements. Further, he also respects that the general "complexity of the boundary" (p. 428) may even be contributing to the varied figures, inasmuch suggesting that the India–Bangladesh border is so convoluted that those studying it, reporting on it, and tasked with governing it themselves have difficulty keeping track of just whose lands are whose.

Surely compounding this geographic complexity is the fact that some of the 198 enclaves are actually inside of others. India possesses three such second-order enclaves (also termed "counter-enclaves") within Bangladeshi enclaves, and 21 Bangladeshi enclaves are actually inside of other Indian fragments. The world's only third-order enclave (or "counter-counter-enclave") is also sovereign Indian territory. In other words, there's an Indian enclave within a Bangladeshi enclave within an Indian enclave within the principal territory of Bangladesh (Whyte, 2002).Table 1 below summarises these counts.

In total, approximately 17,200 acres of exclaved Indian territory is enclaved by Bangladesh and nearly 12,300 acres of exclaved Bangladeshi territory is enclaved by India, of which one unit is as large as 4,617 acres and another as small as .27 acres (Vinokurov, 2007; Whyte, 2002). It is not at all clear how Chaudhury (2011) calculated that "almost 3,000 acres of Bangladesh's land lies in India and India has around 3,500 acres inside Bangladesh." Many other recent reports, including those by Sarkar (2013), The Hindu (2013), and New Delhi Television Limited (2011), state that only about 7,000 acres of land within India's main boundaries belongs to Bangladesh. These figures likely omit the roughly 5,000-acre exclave of Bangladesh known as Dahagram-Angarpota, the only enclave that would not be transferred according to the terms of the agreement ratified by Bangladesh in 1974 and currently being considered by India.

Another reason Dahagram-Angarpota may not be included in some figures of enclave area is Bangladeshi residents of the territory are officially permitted to transit across the surrounding Indian territory to the Bangladeshi mainland through a 175-metre strip known as the Tin Bigha Corridor, which since 2011 is open 24 hours a day (Bhasin, 2011; Cons, 2012; Jones, 2009; The Daily Star, 2011). The corridor, as explained by an Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) commander in a June 2013 interview, is fenced on all sides and its traffic controlled by Indian BSF officers who ensure that Dahagram-Angarpota's residents only pass east and west through the corridor while Indian residents pass north and south (Map 8). The arrangement thus keeps the enclave's roughly 16,000 people (Jones, 2009) connected by what van Schendel (2002, p. 139) calls an "umbilical cord" to their home country, while at the same time ensuring that the residents of Indian territory southwest of the Dahagram-Angarpota and east of the Teesta River are not cut off by the corridor from their own homelands (van Schendel, 2002; Whyte, 2002).

But even with this special arrangement made to local residents, DahagramAngarpota is still technically a true enclave. The Tin Bigha Corridor remains under Indian sovereignty and is operated by Indian officials (Bhasin, 2011; van Schendel, 2002). And however unlikely, the Indian government could, if it wished, choose to sever that umbilical cord by cancelling the agreement and blocking traffic through the corridor, thus leaving the Bangladeshis in Dahagram-Angarpota marooned. Because of Dahagram-Angarpota's political geography, its residents are still subject to India's graces, just as the residents of Bangladesh's 91 other exclaves are.

There are far fewer enclaves among the craggy hills and fertile valleys of Central Asia, but they are shared by three states: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. These enclaves are caught in a net of national boundaries so twisted up that it is difficult to see on a map of the region where one of these countries ends and another begins (Map 9).

Unlike in South Asia where the exact number of enclaves is known (albeit frequently misreported) and where the enclave boundaries are accepted and charted, the number of Central Asian enclaves seems up for debate, with even the boundaries of the confirmed ones far from settled. Jafarova (2013), Vinokurov (2007), and Whyte (2002) all cite eight total enclaves in Central Asia, but only the latter two geographers identify them by name. One exclave of Tajikistan referred to by two different names is said to lie within Uzbekistan, while another two exclaves of Tajikistan can be found in Kyrgyzstan. They identify just four Uzbek enclaves inside of Kyrgyzstan and one enclave of Kyrgyzstan (the village of Barak), within the principal territory of Uzbekistan. Table 2lists the "home state" (the sovereign country) of the enclaves and its "host state" (the state within which the enclave is located), as well as the names or general location of the enclave, all according to Vinokurov (2007, p. 5) and Whyte (2002, pp. 24-25).

Vinokurov and Whyte have both done extensive, reliable research of the world's enclaves and their works, along with those of van Schendel, are rightly considered some of the most authoritative in the field. However, it is possible that they, Jafarova (2013), and others have overlooked a ninth enclave in Central Asia. Frustratingly though, those who identify a ninth true enclave in the region do not even agree where or whose it is. The geography of the region is that contested, that complex.

Kokaisl and Kokaislová (2009, p. 137), for example, list Kairagach and Western Qalcha as two separate exclaves of Tajikistan within Kyrgyzstan, not one piece of territory with two different names as figured by Vinokurov (2007) and Whyte (2002). Their enumeration of the region's enclaves is shown here inTable 3.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) (2002) reports having travelled throughout the region and conducting interviews with local officials concerning the enclaves. ICG has also determined that there are nine enclaves in Central Asia, but not the same nine as Kokaisl and Kokaislová (2009). Rather ICG (pp. 4-5) says there are just seven enclaves in Kyrgyzstan: two belonging to Tajikistan and "the remainder to Uzbekistan." One of the two Tajikistan-owned enclaves, ICG says (pp. 4 and 19), is the village of Vorokh and the other "a very small" enclave called Western Qalcha. Khamidov (2003) and the Jamestown Foundation (2013) agree that there are only two exclaves of Tajikistan in Kyrgyzstan, Vorukh and Western Qalcha. The Jamestown Foundation concurs with ICG's determination that there are five exclaves of Uzbekistan in Kyrgyzstan. The total of Central Asian enclaves as identified by ICG is listed in Table 4, and the total according to the Jamestown Foundation in Table 5.


Excerpted from Games of Life and Land by Glen R. Hamburg. Copyright © 2014 Institute of Foreign Policy Studies (IFPS) and Centre for Pakistan and West Asian Studies (CPWAS). Excerpted by permission of KW Publishers Pvt Ltd.
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Table of Contents


1. Defining Terms Through Comparative Geography,
2. Locating and Counting Case Study Enclaves,
3. (A)historical Origins,
4. Enclave Effects On Policy Goals,
5. The Enclaves' Continued Existence,
Maps Annex,

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