Necropolitics and the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Indigenous Peoples of Tripura, Northeast India

Thomas Malsom, Biswaranjan Tripura


This article focuses on the necropolitical effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lived experiences of the Indigenous Peoples of Tripura, Northeast India. Our central argument is that Indigenous bodies are governed to die an untimely death. By drawing from Mbembe’s (2003) theoretical framework of necropolitics, we uncover the consequences and experiences of necropower. Necropolitics perpetuates the exclusion of historically marginalized groups by permitting disposability during difficult times. Through technologies of control, necropolitics enables a sovereignty over mortality and construes life as the deployment and manifestation of power. In doing so, during extraordinary events, life becomes strategically subjugated to the power of death. In this study, we argue that the biopolitical effects of the COVID-19 pandemic not only affected individuals unequally but also forced hospital staff to decide who would breathe their last breath. Moreover, Indigenous Peoples’ lived experiences of untimely death manifest the necropolitical technologies vested within hospitals where decisions are made over life or death.


COVID-19; Indigenous Peoples; necropolitics; Tripura, Northeast India

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