Much has been written about the extraordinary violence of recent history, its brutality, and the impossibility of describing it. Routine Violence focuses on the violence of much more routine political practices - the drawing up of political categories and the writing of national histories. The book takes its material from the history of twentieth-century India: the land of Gandhi and of effective nviolent resistance to British colonial rule. It asks questions about how particular histories are claimed as the real histories of a nation; how the sacred nation, and its ( mainstream ) culture and politics, come to be constructed; and how a certain inducement to violence, and a collective amnesia regarding that violence, follow from all of this. This is the first book to engage in a sustained investigation of the routine political violence of our times.
Gyanendra Pandey is Professor of Anthropology and History at Johns Hopkins University.