April 2, 2023

CRITIQUE-Social Anthropology Joint Book Launch Composing Violence by Moyukh Chatterjee – 30 March 2023, noon

What scholarly work is possible when violence is not repressed, not located at the margins of the state, and not even disguised by the participants? In Composing Violence (Duke University Press, 2023) Moyukh Chatterjee examines how highly visible political violence against minorities acts as a catalyst for radical changes in law, public culture, and power.

In 2002, armed Hindu mobs attacked Muslims in broad daylight in the west Indian state of Gujarat. The pogrom, which was widely seen over television, left more than one thousand dead. The book shows that, far from being quashed through its exposure by activists, media, and politicians, state-sanctioned anti-Muslim violence set the stage for transforming India into a Hindu supremacist state. The state’s and civil society’s responses to the violence, Chatterjee contends, reveal the constitutive features of modern democracy in which riots and pogroms are techniques to produce a form of society based on a killable minority and a triumphant majority. Focusing on courtroom procedures, police archives, legal activism, and mainstream media coverage, Chatterjee theorizes violence as a form of governance that creates minority populations.


Chair: Professor Jonathan Spencer

Location: Violet Laidlaw CMB.