The directional name Northeast India, and its derivative Northeasterner, are postcolonial coinages. The region’s modern history is shaped by the dynamics of a “frontier” in its multiple references: migration and settlement, resource extraction, and regional geopolitics. Partly as a result of this, the political trajectory of the region has been different from the rest of the country. Ethnic militias and armed groups have flourished for decades, but they coexist comfortably with functioning electoral institutions. The region has some of India’s highest voter turnout rates, but special security laws produce significant democracy deficits that are now almost as old as the Republic. Sanjib Baruah offers a nuanced account of this impossibly complicated story, asking how democracy can be sustained, and deepened, in these conditions.