New Login   

Discourses of Religious and Political Violence

Asha Sarangi

Edited by Ravinder Kaur
Sage Publications, Delhi, 2005, pp. 228, Rs. 280.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 12 December 2005

Over the last two decades, various forms of religious violence have growingly disturbed the existing political order in different parts of South Asia. A number of academic writings have tried to analyse and explain the causes and effects of it. Ravinder Kaur’s Religion, Violence and Political Mobilisation in South Asia has essays by historians, political scientists and anthropologists—all of them trying to understand the role of religious ideas and their appropriation in the realm of politics. In his foreword, Francis Robinson foregrounds the discourse of religious fundamentalism in South Asia within the wider phenomenon of the rise of Christian right wing politics at global scale prominently in USA, Israel and the former Soviet Union in the last two decades. In his view, the well known Robinson-Brass thesis, regarding the genesis and growth of Muslim separatism in the United Provinces in late nineteenth century colonial India in terms of primordialist and instrumentalist analysis, runs throughout the book. Robinson suggests that frame theory, which ‘sees particular political and social actions as resulting from a conscious strategic efforts by groups of people to fashion shared understandings of the world and of themselves that legitimate and motivate collective action’ (p.10), could probably explain the rise of Hindutva in modern day India.   In her introductory essay, ‘Mythology of Communal Violence’, Kaur poses a direct and obvious problem, i.e. different forms and degrees of violence cannot be explained simply through the problematic of ‘communal ideology’. Therefore, the first and foremost task, in her view, is ‘how to understand this communal violence’ which should not be characterized as violence between two majority and minority communities. Rather the need is to ‘look at the specific events involving certain political, social, economic and cultural practices that account for communalism’ and the ‘critical reconsideration of the concept of communalism’ itself. The two important constitutive components to this query, in her views, are religious mobilization and the state. She reiterates a well-established argument, (that has been around for sometime now) which considers that ‘episodes of collective violence against a community serve as a form of social control exercised by the dominant groups’ (p.20). However, she rightly reminds us that this kind of social control is exercised by creating segregation and subjugation of the minority community by the majority community. The latter uses logic of numbers to force an ideology of integration and survival on the minority community after ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.