By Jonathan Spencer

Lately anthropology has rediscovered its curiosity in politics. development at the findings of this study, this ebook deals a brand new approach of analysing the connection among tradition and politics, with specific awareness 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, proposing 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 battle. Bringing jointly and linking the subjects of democracy, identification and clash, this significant new research indicates how anthropology can take a imperative function in knowing different people's politics, particularly the problems that appear to have divided the realm considering Sept. 11.

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

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The RJD supremo’s entourage consisted of hundreds of horses, camels, elephants and a music band. Supporters presented him with a sword as he travelled in his air-conditioned rath, which was escorted by a kilometreslong cavalcade. ’ Laloo Prasad stopped en route at Biharsgarif to offer chaddar (a length of holy cloth) at the tomb of the Sufi saint Makhdom Baba. The cavalcade virtually laid siege to the highway leading to Ranchi. (Chaudhuri 2001) Horses, camels, elephants: I guess we’re not in Kansas any more.

The people dropped their stones and bricks and slowly they moved towards the bus, and to the astonishment of the passengers within they began to kiss it. (Adams 1998: 127–8) For the doctors themselves, their protests were an extension of their professional responsibilities. In the words of one prominent doctor, recalling a conversation with the then Minister of Health: We are voicing . . we are protesting against this arrest and treatment of our colleagues, aginst the killing of people. This is totally a non-political issue.

Their relationship with the local state is a great deal less reflective than the Benaras wrestlers, as described by Alter. Much of their income comes from so-called ‘land business’ – acting as hired enforcers for the urban middle classes whose property interests are no longer adequately protected by the creaky machinery of the formal legal system – but their fame derives in large part from their role as fighters in the city’s intermittent Hindu– Muslim clashes. A story about an older wrestler’s retirement from street violence in the late 1970s provides a different twist to Alter’s argument: Since each one of us interprets the world from the limited view we have of it, Sufi Pehlwan too saw the deterioration of the country through his particular professional lens.

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