The Colors of Violence: Cultural Identities, Religion, and Conflict

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University of Chicago Press, 1996 - Psychology - 217 pages
For decades India has been intermittently tormented by brutal outbursts of religious violence, thrusting thousands of ordinary Hindus and Muslims into bloody conflict. In this provocative work, psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar exposes the psychological roots of Hindu-Muslim violence and examines with grace and intensity the subjective experience of religious hatred in his native land.

With honesty, insight, and unsparing self-reflection, Kakar confronts the profoundly enigmatic relations that link individual egos to cultural moralities and religious violence. His innovative psychological approach offers a framework for understanding the kind of ethnic-religious conflict that has so vexed social scientists in India and throughout the world.

Through riveting case studies, Kakar explores cultural stereotypes, religious antagonisms, ethnocentric histories, and episodic violence to trace the development of both Hindu and Muslim psyches. He argues that in early childhood the social identity of every Indian is grounded in traditional religious identifications and communalism. Together these bring about deep-set psychological anxieties and animosities toward the other. For Hindus and Muslims alike, violence becomes morally acceptable when communally and religiously sanctioned. As the changing pressures of modernization and secularism in a multicultural society grate at this entrenched communalism, and as each group vies for power, ethnic-religious conflicts ignite. The Colors of Violence speaks with eloquence and urgency to anyone concerned with the postmodern clash of religious and cultural identities.
 

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Contents

THE SETTING
1
Shifting Perspectives
3
Unparalleled in the World
4
Versions of the Past
12
Between Enemy Lines
16
THE RIOT
25
The Story of a Cousin Told by His Elder Brother
27
The Cousin from Lahore
28
VICTIMS AND OTHERS II THE MUSLIMS
119
Rashids Family
120
Days and Nights of the Riot
123
Babars Children
125
The Victim Response
128
Morality of Violence
132
Morality and the Hindus
139
A NEW HINDU IDENTITY
143

Territory and Passion
37
Profile of a Riot
40
December 1990
47
THE WARRIORS
52
Testing the Tigers
58
The Violent Poet
59
Young Tigers and Pussy Cats
69
Spreading the Wind
72
Psyche and Wrestling
81
VICTIMS AND OTHERS I THE HINDUS
87
A Pardi Family
92
Pardis and the Modern World
95
The Night of Long Knives
98
The Past
104
Image of the Muslim
105
Gandhi Psychoanalysts and Cows
109
Childrens Tales
114
Shadows of Mourning
144
Secret Wounds
146
Cultural Identity and Cure
148
Psychology versus Politics?
149
Search for Hinduness
152
The Virtuous Virago
153
THE MUSLIM FUNDAMENTALISM IDENTITY
170
Meeting the Mullahs
171
Religious Politics
176
CONCLUSION RELIGIOUS CONFLICT IN THE MODERN WORLD
186
Religious Identities and Violence
190
Histories and Futures
194
APPENDIXES
199
The Morality Interview
202
NOTES
205
INDEX
211
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

Sudhir Kakar is a psychoanalyst and the author of many books, including The Analyst and the Mystic: Psychoanalytic Reflections on Religion and Mysticism; Intimate Relations: Exploring Indian Sexuality; and Shamans, Mystics and Doctors: A Psychological Inquiry into India and its Healing Traditions.

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