Borderline nationalism: Restructuring the Wagah–Attari border ‘retreat ceremony’ and its media representations

Ronie Parciack*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The daily ‘Retreat Ceremony’ held at the Wagah–Attari border between Pakistan and India evokes questions regarding Indo–Pak relations, their public display and the dynamic mix of hostility versus reciprocal collaboration the ceremony demonstrates. Over the past couple of years, the Indian border zone at Attari has undergone major changes affecting both its spatial design and commerce in the local bazaars. Between 2011 and 2015, video compact discs sold there, including some produced by the Indian Border Security Force, expressed a desire to eradicate the India–Pakistan border and unite the two states; these discs disappeared in 2015. However, the Indian desire to see the nation and its borders as partially permeable has not disappeared. This essay addresses the commercial products available at the border-zone area, as well as political changes in India, physical transformations at the Indian border zone, and new practices in the ceremony itself, supporting the idea that the border is an arena that reveals a certain porousness and fragility of the nation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)744-762
Number of pages19
JournalSouth Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2018


  • Border Security Force (BSF)
  • Borders
  • India
  • Nationalism
  • New media
  • Pakistan
  • Video compact discs (VCDs)


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