Thursday, February 21, 2013

The politics of terror: Paradoxes that catalyze violence

As I sit here watching news stories of blasts in Hyderabad, I feel the personal nature of the anxiety.

My younger brother lives in Hydrabad, so does one of our post-doctoral fellows who is carrying out our CCA projects there. I have many friends in the city, and the images of the blasts are plastered across the media screen.

The images of suffering speak to the terror now being felt in the city. Even as I spoke with my mother, and then my brother, and then with my in-laws, I feel the terror they feel. The terror that is mobilized by the violence of the blasts.

Posting messages on Facebook and exprressing support for friends and family in Hyderabad, I am struck by the connections drawn between Hyderabad blasts and the hanging of Afzal Garu.

Even before legitimate reports regarding the sources of the blast have been released, I see people jumping to conclusions, heuristically linking the Hyderabad blasts to the hanging of Afzal Garu, as if as a justification for the hanging of Afzal.

What I am struck by is the heuristic that motivates such logic leaps without critical interrogation, and the violence that is embodied in this heuristic.

The reference to Afzal Garu in interpreting the attacks is just as violent as the attacks because they feed the same forms of violence on the "other"whose body must be marked out as the subject of the terror.

Unless Indians collectively come to understand the interpenetrating relationships among the various frames of violence they live amidst, issues of terror are going to continue being dealt with as episodic problems with episodic solutions.

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