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How can spectacular violence against minorities strengthen the legitimacy of postcolonial regimes? What forms of politics and power sustain majoritarian regimes in modern democracies?
As an anthropologist of South Asia, Moyukh Chatterjee analyzes how regimes perform spectacular violence against minorities in ways that deepen their political power and public legitimacy. Drawing on ethnographic research on one of India’s most gruesome episodes of state-sanctioned violence, Chatterjee’s research offers an account of how democratic states like India are able to purge themselves of public violence against minorities. His research shows that recurrent sectarian violence and subsequent impunity in India is not breakdown of law and order but a key lens to understand postcolonial governance. By analyzing the rise of an elected majoritarian regime, of which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India is only one example, Chatterjee invites us to reconsider not only the postcolonial state, but the modern state in general.
At ISID, Chatterjee is working on a book, tentatively titled, “Chronicle of a Riot Foretold: Spectacular Violence and State Formation in India.” It is based on eighteen months of fieldwork in the capital city of Gujarat, Ahmedabad, which included collecting survivor’s testimony, accompanying them to the courts, and tracking the work of human rights activists. The book analyzes how the media, courts, police, and the wider public legitimize anti-minority rule in India. It shows precisely how spectacular violence, everyday legality, and sectarian politics can constitute regimes based on the explicit domination of minorities.
Chatterjee joined ISID in 2015 as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Global Governance. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from Emory University, and earned an M.Phil and MA in Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics, and a BA in English Literature from Delhi University. His research has received funding from the Wenner-Gren Foundation. His prior publications include articles on the politics of fieldwork in the aftermath of violence and legal techniques that allow states to reinforce sectarian politics.
2016. “Against the Witness: Hindu Nationalism and the Law in India.” Law, Culture and Humanities. April, 8, 2016, DOI: 10.1177/1743872116643693
2014. "After the Law." Economic and Political Weekly no. 49 (16): 12-15. 2014. Translated into Hindi for Samayanantar.
2013. "Modes of Encountering the Survivor of Violence: Reflections from AAA 2013." Fieldsights - Anthro Happenings, Cultural Anthropology Online, December 16, 2013.
Zinaida Miller’s work examines the relationships among local and international legal regimes and experts in moments of conflict and post-conflict transition, focusing on the distributional effects of international interventions. At ISID, she is working on a book, tentatively entitled Interventions, Institutions, and Inequalities: Justice, Development, and Reconstruction “After” Conflict. In it, Miller examines the different conceptions of justice, law, and political economy that underpin expert interventions in the aftermath of conflict and analyzes how those preconceptions affect the possibilities for sustainable peace and development. Her prior publications include articles on the occlusion of economic issues in transitional justice and the influence of international ideas about law, humanitarianism, and development on Palestinian governance, among others. A forthcoming edited collection, Anti-Impunity and the Human Rights Agenda (with Karen Engle and Dennis Davis, Cambridge University Press), explores the increasing emphasis on punishment and prosecution in the human rights movement, particularly in states emerging from conflict.
Prior to taking up the fellowship at ISID, Miller was a Senior Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Institute for Global Law & Policy. She holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a B.A. in Political Science from Brown University.
Katherine Bersch’s research focuses on governance reform and state capacity, with an emphasis in Latin America. She employs a range of research methods to understand the political conditions under which policies designed to reduce corruption, increase transparency, and enhance accountability are successful and durable. While at ISID, Bersch is completing the preparation of a book-length manuscript, “When Democracies Deliver: Governance Reform in Latin America” and expanding of her work on the State Capacity Project. Bersch’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Comparative Politics, Governance, the European Journal of Development Research, Information Polity, and in Miguel Centeno, Atul Kohli, and Deborah Yashar's edited volume, States in the Developing World. She is the recipient of the 2015 LAPIS Award from the Latin American Studies Association for her coauthored paper on state capacity, and her research has been supported by a Fulbright IIE Grant, a Boren Fellowship from the National Security Education Program, an Eisenhower-Roberts Fellowship, a Mike Hogg Endowed Fellowship from the University of Texas, and a National P.E.O. Scholar Award.
Prior to taking up the fellowship at ISID, Bersch was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. She holds a Ph.D. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin.
Eric Hirsch is an anthropologist whose research examines development and the political concepts of sustainability, resilience, and inclusion in rural and urban Latin America. While at ISID, he will be working on a book tentatively titled “Investing in Indigeneity: Development, Inclusion, and the Politics of Uneven Abundance in Andean Peru.” Based on over two years’ total of longitudinal ethnography in Peru, this book investigates the relationship between small-scale development financing, environmental adaptation, and the economic making of indigenous lives in Andean Peru’s Arequipa region. His specific focus was a network of agricultural villages in the Colca Valley closely linked to the city of Arequipa. He found that development institutions’ emphases on harnessing what they saw as abundant sources of human capital, ecological expertise, and entrepreneurial capacity belied basic material scarcities resulting from climate change and state disinvestment. He has also begun to research the medium- and long-term impacts of development projects big and small after they end in Latin America and in several comparative sites. Their diverse impacts range from entrepreneurial success and failure, to new modes of extractive industry, to political crisis and increased urbanization and international migration. These interests will be the subject of a new book project he is initiating at ISID and, in 2017, a workshop in Peru sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation Engaged Anthropology Grant. He has published articles on extraction, urban migration, climate change in Peru and the Maldives, and Andean public space.
Hirsch holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in anthropology from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in anthropology and English from Columbia University. His research has received support from the Mellon Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Inter-American Foundation, and the Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion at UC-Irvine, and a FLAS fellowship for Quechua study.
S.P.Harish specializes in comparative politics with an emphasis on state capacity, nation-building, political violence and energy access, especially in Southeast and South Asia. His dissertation research examined factors that exacerbate gender, ethnic and geographical divides within a country, and how states overcome these societal rifts.
In recent work on Timor-Leste, he presents a theory of how exposure to violence exacerbates the gender divide in Timor-Leste. Using a novel dataset that documents human rights violations in Timor-Leste during the Indonesian occupation and a household survey, he shows that the negative impact of war affects not only people who were exposed to the violence but also extends to the next generation. Importantly, he shows that this only affects female children in the next generation, thereby exacerbating the gender divide. He provides a causal mechanism using an overlapping generations model and associated empirical evidence through which this effect sustains for more than one generation. Specifically, he shows how households that are exposed to violence make allocation decisions that are more in favor of their sons rather than their daughters compared to other households.
In additional projects, S.P. Harish examines how female leadership influences a state’s tendency to engage in conflict; how education policies overcome ethnic divisions in Thailand; and the determinants of election-violence in Indonesia. His work on the electoral violence cycle (co-authored with Andrew Little) is forthcoming in the American Political Science Review.
At ISID, Dr. Harish is working on a book project on the effect of pre-colonial institutions in Southeast Asia. Using a combination of qualitative, quantitative and archival data, he is studying how pre-colonial institutions continue to play a key role in the economic and political arena in the region. The findings have implications for state-formation, economic growth and democratic rule for post-colonial countries.
"The Political Violence Cycle," American Political Science Review, forthcoming (co-authored with Andrew Little).
"Queens," Working Paper, October 2016 (with Oeindrila Dube)
"Ethnic or Religious Cleavage? Investigating the Nature of the Conflict in Southern Thailand," Contemporary Southeast Asia, Vol.28, No.1, April 2006, pp. 48-69