The moral politics of violent death in India

Martyrdom and propaganda ontologies in Maoist India 

In writings produced by the Naxalite Maoist movement in India, martyrdom features extensively. Whether it is in the form of martyrologies in maoist journals, commemorative martyrdom volumes or individual pamphlets, the violent death of its cadres and leadership has produced a particular genre of commemorative writing. This research project uses this body of work as the main source to provide insights into the moral politics of violent death within the Maoist movement. Of key concern is the way in which the martyrologies appear to bridge the gap between Maoist revolutionary law and its everyday praxis. Moreover, in considering the ontological status of these writings (as propaganda), larger questions about truth and representation in the making of revolution are posed.


The moral anthropology of violent deaths in northeast India

This project wants to understand how rebel groups and societies deal with violent death as a part of civil strife. While these deaths are often transformed into statistics, for instance to show the intensity of a conflict or the success of (counter)insurgency, this project t wants to understand what type of moral politics emerges out of violent death. . It is hypothesized that moral politics emerges out of the tension between the body natural and the body politic of those killed as part of civil strife. The act which potentially transforms a (living) body natural into a (dead) body politic is at the heart of meaning- making in this context. Moreover, for the societies involved, and particularly for the families and (extended) kin of the deceased, this tension between the loss of kin (as a body natural) through violence and the potential political content of this killing also brings up a moral tension, in which the distinction between private and public morality of death becomes salient. The research project will try to better understand the moral politics of violent death and the tensions involved by a close comparative study of violent death in Northeast India.