Travels in Nagaland. The Ginette Harrison Memorial Lecture on 8th November, 2023
by Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent

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Former headhunters embroiled in a decades-long fight for independence, the Naga tribes inhabit the remote, mountainous borderlands of Northeast India and Myanmar. For centuries the Naga perched on their hilltops in near isolation but today, more than a hundred years after the first soldiers, surveyors and missionaries invaded these wild borderlands, their culture is fast disappearing. The last living headhunters will soon be dead and many of the Naga’s rich cultural traditions are being swept away by external influences.

Having first encountered the Naga during my travels across Arunachal Pradesh, in late 2019 Antonia headed off to spend two months exploring the Naga tribal territories of both India and Myanmar.

Travelling by motorbike, boat, foot and local transport, she met former headhunters, traditional healers, Baptist preachers, Naga rebel commanders, hunters and conservationists and, in doing so, gained a rare outsider’s insight into the Naga and their lands today.

While much has been written of the Naga tribes in India, very few foreigners have travelled to their villages over the border in Myanmar, and this was the really interesting bit. Most of these villages remain unmarked on any map and the jungles around them provide cover for Naga rebels. As one Burmese Naga told Antonia, these villages are so hard to get to that only ‘serious enemies or true friends’ can reach them.

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Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent

Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent (aka Ants) is a travel writer, occasional TV producer and expedition organiser, with a particular penchant for travelling alone through remote regions. She's driven a pink tuk tuk 12,500 miles from Bangkok to Brighton, ridden a stupidly small motorbike down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, trek across the Eastern Himalayas in search of Shangri-La, organised the longest hor...

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