This paper reflects on the links between the documentary and the ontological in the (un)making of Rohingya identity. At decolonization, mobility narratives framed through a nation-centric lens -- in conjunction with other contingencies -- undermined Rohingya claims to belonging. Even as possession of the “right” documentation is today fundamental to claiming citizenship, the post-colonial Burmese state has systematically stripped Rohingya of the right to any documentation in its attempt to extinguish Rohingya subjectivity. The paper calls for decolonizing cartographies and dismantling narratives of belonging tied to nation-centric territorial claims. We might begin with an exploration of the ways Rohingya and Rakhine are historically co-constitutive rather than oppositional identity categories.
JBS Vol 22. Num 1. 2020 - Weaponizing Paperwork: Rohingya Belonging and Statelessness