Anthropology, Politics, and the State: Democracy and by Jonathan Spencer

By Jonathan Spencer

Lately anthropology has rediscovered its curiosity in politics. development at the findings of this examine, this booklet bargains a brand new manner of analysing the connection among tradition and politics, with designated consciousness to democracy, nationalism, the nation and political violence. starting with scenes from an unruly early Nineteen Eighties election crusade in Sri Lanka, it covers concerns from rural policing in north India to slum housing in Delhi, offering arguments approximately secularism and pluralism, and the ambiguous energies published by means of electoral democracy around the subcontinent. It ends via discussing feminist peace activists in Sri Lanka, suffering to maintain a window of shared humanity after twenty years of conflict. Bringing jointly and linking the topics of democracy, identification and clash, this crucial new learn indicates how anthropology can take a imperative function in knowing different people's politics, particularly the problems that appear to have divided the area given that 11th of September.

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Extra info for Anthropology, Politics, and the State: Democracy and Violence in South Asia

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They are careful to eat properly, to exercise properly, to shit properly. According to their ethnographer, Joseph Alter, their rationale for these practices is a political one: When reflecting on the nature of what it is they are doing, they often begin to talk about the political and moral climate of modern India. They are highly critical of the government’s role in public welfare and policy. Wrestlers are also very critical of the character of modern Indian men, particularly young men, who are seen as preoccupied with sex, greed, and sensual gratification of all kinds.

Senior wrestlers in Benaras would often point out and vocally criticize young men for sporting ‘hippi-cut’ hair styles, tight-fitting ‘bush shirts’, and snug polyester trousers. 3 Alter’s wrestlers have a vision of a utopian India, in which the disciplined bodies of the wrestlers transcend the divisions of politics, caste, and community. Other wrestlers, though, have darker visions. In his recent book on the causes and consequences of religious violence in India, the psycho-analyst Sudhir Kakar describes his encounter with two ‘riot captains’ in urban Hyderabad.

31 Anthropology, Politics, and the State blade which sliced through muscle, cartilage, and bone as if they were wet clay. Simply put, there was no longer any professional satisfaction to be obtained from a riot, and Sufi Pehlwan had turned to other, more challenging, if perhaps less exciting pursuits. (Kakar 1996: 82) The moral and political order, for this man, is so decadent that even the communal rioting is not what it once was. The wrestlers are urban men, and their viewpoint on the postcolonial state may be dismissed as too marginal for serious attention.

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