Life and Words: Violence and the Descent Into the Ordinary
University of California Press, 2007 - History - 281 pages
In this powerful, compassionate work, one of anthropology’s most distinguished ethnographers weaves together rich fieldwork with a compelling critical analysis in a book that will surely make a signal contribution to contemporary thinking about violence and how it affects everyday life. Veena Das examines case studies including the extreme violence of the Partition of India in 1947 and the massacre of Sikhs in 1984 after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In a major departure from much anthropological inquiry, Das asks how this violence has entered "the recesses of the ordinary" instead of viewing it as an interruption of life to which we simply bear witness. Das engages with anthropological work on collective violence, rumor, sectarian conflict, new kinship, and state and bureaucracy as she embarks on a wide-ranging exploration of the relations among violence, gender, and subjectivity. Weaving anthropological and philosophical reflections on the ordinary into her analysis, Das points toward a new way of interpreting violence in societies and cultures around the globe. The book will be indispensable reading across disciplinary boundaries as we strive to better understand violence, especially as it is perpetrated against women.
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abducted woman anthropology Antigone argued Arthur Kleinman Asha asked assassination become Block body brother caste Cavell Cavell’s Chamars chapter child claims colony context created crowd culture daughter dead death Deleuze Delhi discourse ethnography everyday evoked experience father Gandhi gurudwaras Hindu households human husband idea images India Indira Gandhi Jacques Lacan jhuggis Khalistan killed kind kinship Lacan language lives looted Manjit masculine Mbembe memory militant mother mourning Muslim Mytheme narrative nation official one’s Operation Blue Star pain Pakistan Partition Partition of India past people’s person philosophical police political Pradhan Punjab question rape relation reported riots rituals rumor Sandip seems sense sexual Shanti Siglikar Sikhs simply Singh sister social contract speech Stanley Cavell story streets Sultanpuri survivors tion trauma University Press Veena Veena Das victims violation violence voice widow witness Wittgenstein women words writing
Page x - Suppose you came as an explorer into an unknown country with a language quite strange to you. In what circumstances would you say that the people there gave orders, understood them, obeyed them, rebelled against them, and so on? The common behaviour of mankind is the system of reference by means of which we interpret an unknown language.