Thoughts on ‘frontier’ and the imperative of setting an agenda

By FrontierManipur | Published On 17th Aug, 2020, 11:10 GMT+0530

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In traditional political geography, the idea of ‘frontier’ denotes an area while boundary denotes a line.  Historically, ‘frontier’ was not an abstract term or line. On the contrary, it designated as an area which was part of a whole, specifically the part which was ahead of the ‘hinterland’. Ladis KD Kristof, the political geographer in one of his papers stated that the frontier can also be called the ‘foreland’, or ‘borderland’, or ‘march’. While the polemics over what constitutes ‘frontier’ at the level of political geography continues in times of post-modern thoughts, we have always been aware of our existence in a milieu populated by marginalized people with shared racial, cultural, and historical roots. It is also a fact that the same people have endured a collective misery since the advent of colonialism. Thus, the idea of ‘frontier’ that we know is not merely a geographical expression but a geopolitical body linked by a common thread, a shared historical burden that stems from the end of British colonial dispensation.

Therefore, the people of the ‘frontier’ we know do have a task to make unwavering efforts towards acquiring not only critical knowledge but also a collective perspective to ensure a common spirit and vision. While keeping in mind the common spirit, we also do acknowledge that there have been numerous stories based on the theory that trans-national thoughts as reflected after the media have challenged boundaries, questioning the principle of ‘territoriality’, ‘borderlands’ and demarcated nationalism. Are we then supposed to conclude that it is very well the end of modern nation-states’ attempts to use the media as means to reinforce the idea of an ‘established order’ surrounded by frontiers. Certainly not, if one closely monitors and identifies who actually hold the power to monopolise the process of knowledge production and allows their ideas to shape people’s perception of socio and geopolitical reality. To make sense of such a situation, one has to understand the logic of our own aspirations.

In the post-globalisation period, scholars around the world have also argued that national boundaries and frontiers as ‘physically’ mapped and reflected in the minds have become even fuzzier and nation-states are increasingly finding it difficult to control the flow of political, social, and cultural information and imageries. However, it should be noted that the origin for this phenomenon has been invariably traced to the media’s characteristics in influencing and to some extent determining cross-border movement of ideas, goods, capital, and people.

With the emergence of new communication technologies like the internet as a potent medium of communication, media discourse has now focused on examining earlier models of communication dealing with questions like: Who is an audience? What is a communication medium? How are messages mediated? The media and the new technology medium like the internet and their ‘simultaneity of operation’ have led to ‘multiplied and fractured’ impact quite contrary to the simple linear impact experienced earlier in the past.

The impact of the global process of shaping and re-shaping ideas do have a definitive impact on smaller nationalities, ethnic groups, and minorities. Though there have been serious attempts to intentionally homogenise diversities within a nation, any powerful state’s endeavour has had either mixed response or an impact never likely to be imagined in the 1960s or the 1970s. This is why, the ongoing process of knowledge and information production has to be minutely understood by those who foresee the pangs of being an endangered group in the traditionally defined frontier likely to be swayed by momentary belief in the utopian national grand-narratives.

This is why there is a necessity of setting an agenda and objectives of making the people and citizens aware of what is happening around them while acknowledging the fact that they have the right to know about the society in which they live. We firmly believe that everyone has the right to know about key decisions that may affect them, even if those in power want to either camouflage or hide the issues under the carpet. Our efforts should be aimed at raising social, political, economic, and relevant issues of the people of Manipur, its neighbours and beyond with well researched and investigative articles, comprehensive reportage and coverage.  With a certain amount of dedication, there is a definite possibility to identify common issues that have become stumbling blocks along peoples’ path to collective well-being and development. And now is the time to set the agenda in journalism of courage and amplify the voices from the margins.

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