Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India
This book identifies certain moments in the history of contemporary India. These events concern Partition, sati, minority rights, the Bhopal industrial disaster, the nature of the Indian state, and various sociological issues. Veena Das redescribes these events and their implications within the framework of anthropological knowledge. Her methodologically innovative attempt here is to produce an ethnography of contemporary India which is sensitive to both world historical processes as well as the inner life of individuals. She shows the various social transformations that have resulted in new configurations of relations between the local and the global within India. The critical events that Professor Das analyses have all instituted new sorts of action which have, in turn, redefined traditional categories such as codes of purity and honour; the meaning of martydom; and the construction of a heroic life. The author shows how these new forms took shape and were appropriated by a variety of political actors such as caste groups, religious communities, women's groups, and the nation as a whole. Communalism, rioting, the abduction of women, militant discourse, legal pluralism and the reconstitution of social memory and history by social groups are some of the other important issues which form the core of this book.
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