MIT : séminaire sur les émeutes en Inde – avril 2010
Two-day workshop on Group Violence in South Asia begins at MIT
10 April 2010 -
By TCN News
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Religious, ethnic or communal violence almost always have a political motive and that’s what drives most of the actors involved in any violence. Professor Paul Brass summarized his 40 years research into violence in South Asia in his hour long keynote address delivered at MIT India Workshop in Cambridge on Friday.
A two –day workshop organized at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at Cambridge near Boston opened here today by a keynote speech by Professor Paul Brass on the topic of “Forms of Collective and State Violence in South Asia.”
Well-attended opening session started by welcoming remarks by Dr. Omar Khalidi. MIT Chaplain Dr. Robert M. Randolph, welcomed the participants. He talked about religious activities on MIT campus. Prof. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, one of the organizers of the workshop explained the motive of this workshop and hoped that this will become first in the series of such conversations about violence in the future, whether in India’s northeast, Jammu and Kashmir or violence perpetrated by the Maoists /Naxalites.
Paul Brass in his hour long keynote speech give detailed information on the anatomy and main players of violence in India. He said any violence whether it is religious, communal, or sectarian almost always has a political motive, and other times commercial interests are at play.
Prof. Brass said that it is a mistake to characterize violence between two communities simply as religious violence. Political groups use religion to stroke the violence to further their own political interests. Brass who has spent many years in researching violence in South Asia said that all religious and ethnic violence are closely linked to nationalist or political goals. Riots are engineered to benefit the political party that perpetrates it and violence results in consolidation of Hindu and Muslim votes.
Detailing the anatomy of violence he said violence is like a drama in three stages- rehearsal, enactment, and interpretations. Each of these stages has actors that play important role in perpetuating the violence. He identified many of these characters and what roles they play.
Prof. Brass mostly blamed the government and administration for failure to prevent any communal violence. “Riots are produced when there is absence of will in state government and apathy in local administration,” he said saying that any competent District Magistrate can easily stop violence in any part of India.
“Violence if remain unchecked progress from being communal riots to pogrom to ethnic cleansing to genocide to massacre.” He said all these terms are fluid and are loosely used as form of obfuscation, politicians use the term that suits them well. “All forms of violence far from being senseless have some strategic goals,” he explained. In some instances in Mumbai and Kanpur, violence was used as a way to displace people from prime real estate but other than these few instances violence almost always yield political benefits.
Brass said that his research shows that in any riot more people are injured than killed, in a pogrom there are more killed and less injured, while in genocide and massacre almost all victims are killed. In India, violence between communities has progressed from riots to being pogroms to now almost always a police massacre of weaker sections.
He said perpetrators of violence need to be watched, researched and all their steps and actions documented. This is the first step in beginning to stop the cycle of violence or for the long quest of justice.
PAUL R. BRASS is Professor (Emeritus) of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. He has published numerous books and articles on comparative and South Asian politics, ethnic politics, and collective violence.
His work has been based on extensive field research in India during numerous visits since 1961. His most recent books are: Forms of Collective Violence: Riots, Pogroms, and Genocide in Modern India (2006); The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India (2003); Theft of an Idol: Text and Context in the Representation of Collective Violence (1997); Riots and Pogroms (1996); and The Politics of India since Independence, 2nd ed. (1994).
The Workshop on Saturday will have five sessions that will discuss secularism, state performance during group violence, assessing police performance, prospects to justice, and terrorism. Program is being broadcast live on the workshop website.