Author Biography

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The Tarai has always been considered an integral part of the modern Nepali state. However, the status of this important stretch of territory was open to ambiguity and flux in much of the period prior to the Anglo-Gorkha War of 1814-1816. A host of petty hill principalities and little kingdoms, further south in Moghlan (the plains of North India below the foothills of the Himalayas) constantly competed to control these lands and their resources. Furthermore, a web of tenurial, taxation, and hierarchical political relationships knitted the lands of the tarai to those of Moghlan. For the rulers of the emerging kingdom of Gorkha, governance of the tarai posed the usual set of dilemmas and possibilities¯disputes with neighboring little kingdoms and problems of revenue administration mediated their efforts to tap the valuable agrarian resources of these lands. Gorkha was also increasingly drawn into a series of disputes with an emerging territorial power in north India¯the East India Company. Company officials increasingly articulated their claims in terms of the establishment of clear territorial boundaries all the while choosing to ignore the web of tenurial, taxation, and political relationships that had traditionally constituted territory in south asia. The Anglo-Gorkha War of 1814-1816 resulted in the delineation of the boundaries between Gorkha and the Company state. Nepal's tarai as we know it emerged, it might be argued, out of the historical specificities of that colonial encounter and its aftermath, an encounter that affirmed the geographical credentials of the modern state in south Asia¯occupying a definite portion of the earth's surface, divided into non-overlapping divisions and sub-divisions.

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