Political Violence in South and Southeast Asia

Critical Perspectives

image of Political Violence in South and Southeast Asia
This volume explores the sources and manifestations of political violence in South and Southeast Asia and the myriad roles that it plays in everyday life. It considers and critiques the manner in which political violence is understood and constructed, and the common assumptions that prevail regarding the causes, victims and perpetrators of this violence. By focusing on the social and political context of these regions the volume presents a critical understanding of the nature of political violence and provides an alternative narrative to that found in mainstream analysis of ‘terrorism’. Political Violence in South and Southeast Asia brings together political scientists and anthropologists with intimate knowledge of the politics and society of these regions, from different academic backgrounds, who present unique perspectives on topics including assassinations, riots, state violence, the significance of borders, external influences and intervention, and rebellion.



On the borderlines: Politics, religion and violence in Bangladesh

The borders of new states represent sites of contention on two different levels: physical and intellectual. The physical border challenges the government of the state to extend its authority and meet its obligations to citizens within the territory which it encapsulates; to match its “juridical” authority with “empirical authority” and fulfil the criteria for independent statehood. Moreover, governments are charged with its protection and ensuring that it is not breached by illicit movements of people or goods. On the intellectual level, borders present a need for the creation of a national identity that justifies political independence, the very raison d’être of the borders. This involves the creation of a national narrative and posits choices regarding the nature of the new state and its institutional structure, as well as political mechanisms for managing the statesociety relationship. The physicality of the new boundary and its intellectual basis also force new social and political decisions. Benedict Anderson’s “imagined community” becomes all too real as those living in the border areas or enclaves on either side of the political boundary are forced by the appearance of a barrier to identify themselves with a national enterprise and relinquish bonds of community shared with those across a political boundary.


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