Living on the Margins: The Role of Borderland Brokers in Post-War Transitions

Oliver Walton (Photographer), Jonathan Goodhand, Lindsay Pollock (Other)

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products


This illustrated essay has been produced as part of a research project funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) ‘Living on the Margins: Using literary comics to understand the role of borderland brokers in post-war transitions’, which builds on another two-year research project funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC): ‘Borderlands, Brokers and Peacebuilding in Sri Lanka and Nepal’, involving: the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of Bath, PositiveNegatives, International Alert (all UK), Centre for Poverty Analysis (Sri Lanka), and Martin Chautari (Nepal).

The essay uses the comics medium to explore post-war transitions in Nepal and Sri Lanka, and present some of the issues and stories that emerged from our research. In the following pages we attempt to show the complex and contested nature of post-war transitions and how conflict takes on new forms in multiple struggles over power, resources and recognition. Frequently these conflicts are linked to the relationship between centres of power and the peripheries of the state. We focus in particular on the role of ‘borderland brokers’: key individuals from the margins of the state who mediate between the demands and pressures emanating from the ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’ and/or across an international border.

In highlighting these individuals’ stories, we are not seeking to tell the whole story of the conflicts in Nepal and Sri Lanka; the meaning of these conflicts and peoples’ experience of them is always contested and varied. We have chosen to focus on the lives of people living on the margins of the state because their perspectives are frequently missing in accounts of post-war transition. We recognise that the stories people choose to tell about themselves do not provide the full picture, but we hope that their accounts will give a sense of the tensions and dilemmas they faced, and in doing so shed light on how post-war transitions are negotiated by those living on the margins.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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