Cultures of Violence in South Asia

Call Now Closed   CFP: Editorial Special Issue of Kairos (Vol 2 No 1, 2017)

While the Indian Subcontinent lays claim to a rich legacy of anti-colonialism borne out of Gandhian ideals of non-violence, it is fraught with periodic flare-ups of violence between the state, insurgency groups, religious organizations, among a wide spectrum of other actors. It could even be argued that the violence has been congenital to the nation-state formation in the Indian Subcontinent, as exemplified in the rich literary tradition of the Partition narratives by Saadat Manto, Ahmed Ali, Khushwant Singh, and Bapsi Sidhwa. Could such founding violence of the India-Pakistan Partition, which is described as “the central historical event in twentieth century South Asia” (Ayesha Jalal), be the source of what Mark Juergensmeyer has termed as “cultures of violence” in the Subcontinent? If so, what would be the distinct modes, modalities and manifestations of such violence? While any cultural(ist) attachment to violence risks the dangers of Orientalist iteration of violence as a regional or geo-specific phenomenon, one that was originally conceived in the 19th century European theories of the Sublime which reduced the colonial world into a terra incognita of darkness, death and destruction, one cannot undermine the fact that postcolonial nation-states themselves began to deploy the colonizers’ models of biopolitical, necropolitical and thanatopolitical violence in the name of homogenous nation building. In the post-9/11 climate, police encounters, custodial killings, extra-judicial killings, and the use of private armies such as the Salwa Judum are added to existing measures of state violence. Ironically, this has led to many disenchanted and marginalized communities in the Subcontinent to resort to violence as the primary source of resistance over other conciliatory means. Today, from Khap Panchayats to Gow Rakshak vigilante groups, and from mob justice to Janatana Sarkars, violence has assumed specific cultural and communal forms of expression across the Subcontinent. This Special Issue of Kairos invites essay from all social science and humanities sub-disciplines that address the intersections of culture and violence in South Asia. The editors welcome submissions that address, but are not restricted to:

  • Civil war in Sri Lanka and the brutal suppression of the LTTE;
  • State violence and counter violence in Kashmir;
  • The Naxalite insurgency in India;
  • Caste violence/ Khap Panchayats, Gow Rakshak Dals, and Jallikattu;
  • Communal violence/attacks on Dalits and Muslims;
  • Maoist Insurgency and post-Maoist state formation in Nepal;
  • Separatist violence in Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur;
  • Religious violence and threats to secularism in Bangladesh;
  • Insurgency in Baluchistan and (political) assassinations of journalists and activists in Pakistan
  • Gender violence; public discourses on rape and women’s safety; violence against sexual minorities;
  • South Asian and postcolonial theories/theorists on violence (Guha, Nandy, and the Subaltern Studies Group. Mbembe, Fanon)
  • Relevance of European theories on violence to South Asia (Schmidt; Agamben; Foucault; Butler, Sontag)

Please send abstracts of 400-600 words to Kairos Editors at by 1 April 2017. Based on the abstracts received, the editors will invite full essays of 6500-7000 words. The deadline for full essays is 1 August 2017.

Author: Pavan Kumar Malreddy, Goethe University Frankfurt