HUMA Book Launch
Author: Ruchi Chaturvedi, University of Cape Town
Introduction: In Violence of Democracy Ruchi Chaturvedi tracks the rise of India’s divisive politics through close examination of decades-long confrontations in Kerala between members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and supporters of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and extensive archival research, Chaturvedi investigates the unique character of the conflict between the party left and the Hindu right. This conflict, she shows, defies explanations centering religious, caste, or ideological differences. It offers instead new ways of understanding how quotidian political competition can produce antagonistic majoritarian communities. Rival political parties mobilize practices of disbursing care and aggressive masculinity in their struggle for electoral and popular power, a process intensified by a criminal justice system that reproduces rather than mitigating violence. Chaturvedi traces these dynamics from the late colonial period to the early 2000s, illuminating the broader relationships between democratic life, divisiveness, and majoritarianism.
About the author: Ruchi Chaturvedi teaches at the Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town. Her research focuses on cultures of democracy, popular politics and political violence in South Asia and South Africa. She is the author of Violence of Democracy: Interparty Conflict in South India (Duke University Press, 2023). Her other publications and editorial work have appeared in Cultural Anthropology, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle-East, Contributions to Indian Sociology, Economic and Political Weekly, and Review of African Political Economy. Ruchi also maintains a strong interest in the career of university apartheid and attempts to undo it at historically white institutions of higher learning. Together with Amrita Pande and Shari Daya, Chaturvedi has co-edited the recent book on Epistemic Justice and the Postcolonial University (Wits University Press, 2023). At UCT, she co-convenes the interdisciplinary MPhil in Theories of Justice and Inequality and the consortium on Other Universals: Thinking from the South on Traditions of Aesthetics and Politics.
Asanda-Jonas Benya is a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Her work focuses on the intersection of gender, class and race. She has published in labour and feminist journals in areas of women in mining, gender and the extractive industries, labour and social movements, social and economic justice. She is currently working on a book project based on her ethnographic study on women underground miners.
Anandaroop Sen is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Historical Studies, University of Cape Town. He is interested in connected histories of law and political economy in the British Empire. His current book project maps a legal and infrastructural history of British military expeditions in the frontiers of Southeast Asia with comparative insights from Southern Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Convenor: Amina Alaoui Soulimani
Lunch will be served at 12:30 SAST (GMT+2).
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