As part of the Observatory of South Asia, the South Asia Program is organizing in partnership with the Institute for Strategic Research (IRSEM) and the Directorate-General for International Relations and Strategy (DGRIS) a seminar entitled “Political Violence and Radical Militancy in South Asia”. Kindly note that for security reasons, people willing to attend must register here before November 23. 

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Political Violence and Radical Militancy in South Asia

Political violence” is a concept frequently mobilized to depict a wide range of political practices in contemporary South Asia. Violence is indeed commonly used by states as a tool to tame opposition, and by political parties as a way to secure more votes and to fulfill their agendas. In recent years, the development of new forms of violence has led most states to introduce major – and sometimes sudden – changes in their internal security policies and their justice system. From these reforms, new levels of coordination have emerged within the state or between states, and so-called “exceptional” or “derogatory” provisions have flourished with significant legal impacts. Meanwhile, non-institutional actors also resort to violence in their opposition strategies. This latter form of violence is typically labelled by states as “terrorism”, and its perpetrators turned into terrorists. The use of such restrictive categories results in the marginalization of political activists and the depoliticization of their claims. From an academic perspective, this state-promoted dichotomy reflects a security-driven approach that occults, among other aspects, the shared use of political violence by both state and non-state actors.

Departing from this binary understanding, the four presentations of the seminar entitled Political Violence and Radical Militancy in South Asia aim at exploring the complex relationship that links state and non-state actors when the latter make use of violence. Papers engage the notion of violence not as a raw emotion leading to sudden, irrational outbursts but as a major political resource that either state or non-state actors use for their own interests. Meanwhile, using political violence and “radicalization” are conceived as the result of a relational and multi-scale process in which both state and non-state actors are stakeholders. Exploring these dynamics will not only contribute to the understanding of the South Asian region, but will also provide elements for a reflexive analysis of the current Western context.