The “Dark Side”: Popular Politics and the Question of Democratic Violence

The Department of Religious Studies invites you to a seminar by Dr Ruchi Chaturvedi, entitled, "The “Dark Side”:  Popular Politics and the Question of Democratic Violence". 

Ruchi Chaturvedi received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University and an M. Phil in Sociology from University of Delhi. She has taught at the City University of New York and Makerere Institute of Social Research. Ruchi’s research focuses on questions of political violence, popular politics and its contentious relationship with the ideology and institutions of liberal democracy. Her writings have revolved around a long-running violent conflict between local level political workers of the Marxist Left and Hindu Right in Kerala, South India.

This presentation revolves around community protests and violent contests between members of various political groups in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. Central to it is what Partha Chatterjee as well as Karl von Holdt, Langa et al. describe as the “dark side” of political society and insurgent citizenship: namely, the often-times collective and sometimes individualized violence that has characterized popular and party politics in various postcolonial states. I read this violence through critiques of liberal equality and democracy articulated especially in the Nigerian political theorist Claude Ake’s work, and in the historian Ajay Skaria’s analysis of Gandhi’s writings. Seen through these lenses, the violent dark side of political society and insurgent citizenship comes into view as an aspect of a shared postcolonial democratic inheritance. I describe the relationship between this modern democratic inheritance, the modes of enacting and organizing power that have emerged in its wake, and collective and inter-party violence. I conclude with the problem of recasting this democratic bequest that haunts Ake’s analysis as much as it does Gandhi’s.

Date: 
Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 13:00
Venue: 

Religious Studies seminar room, LS 5.67, Upper Campus, UCT

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