In the evolution of political forms in India, environmental factors, economic complexity and religious ideology all played important and interlinked roles. As a first step in delineating the long conjoined history of states and com- munities in the subcontinent, I propose the following chronological scheme:

  1. Communities without states from bce 7000 to 800.
  2. Communities as states (‘great communities’) from bce 800 to 300 ce, when the Gupta monarchy was founded.
  3. Communities and states, 300 ce to 1700.
  • States without communities, from 1700 to the present, when the historic conception of ‘community’ had been reduced from what had been histori- cally vital and changing community formations to decorticated shells of ideology.

In this introduction to a special issue on ‘Reconsidering the Region in India’, we aim to develop a synthetic and theoretically nuanced account of the multifarious ways in which the idea of region has been imbricated in diverse spatial, political, cultural and socio-economic configurations. We draw from various bodies of anthropological, geographic and historical literature to elaborate on three themes that we believe are central to understanding contemporary processes of region-making in India: trans-regional mobilities and connections; the actors who produce and perform regional imaginaries; and changing regional politics of development.

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