by Ravi Kumar and Sasanka Perera
Four member states recently withdrew from the SAARC summit that was to be held in Islamabad, affectively scuttling the meeting. This has raised several questions – from the continued existence and overall usefulness of the regional grouping, to the foundational concern of how to work out issues of regional cooperation. As a process, the dominant understandings of regional cooperation have been mostly looked at from the perspectives that privilege space, in the geophysical and cartographic sense, as opposed to the less tangible possibilities of culture and collective imaginings of the past. In this context, the idea of cooperation has focused on relationships based on territorial identities, marked by militarised borders and geophysical spaces surrounded by these borders, which have come to typify the general and popular conceptions of what is meant by nation states.
There is an immediate need to begin conversations as militarisation and nation-centric politics will not work through these moments of anger and angst, particularly if regional cooperation is the preeminent ideal. We need to imagine South Asia differently in a new framework with a sense of hope. As Ernst Bloch has noted, “hope means venturing beyond”.
Read the piece at The Wire