In search of certainty in revolutionary India
- Alpa Shah
- … show all 1 hide
Purchase on Springer.com
$39.95 / €34.95 / £29.95*
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.
In this article, I focus on the dilemmas of a friend in Jharkhand who might have joined the revolutionary armed squads of the Maoist insurgency in India. I show how the question of why one supports a revolutionary movement, as well as the nature of that support, can change over time. In particular, I stress the importance of the dialectics between epistemological and ontological uncertainty and certainty, which may be central to the making of a revolutionary in a particular phase of a revolutionary movement. These dialectics are not just the result of an ontological uncertainty of ideological commitment to the movement, but are crucially also about the search for epistemological clarity in social relations imagined to be less opaque and hence more trustworthy. Doubt, an uncertainty about what one knows about one’s social relationships is characteristic of the epistemic murk that accompanies the breakdown of the normative order in the revolutionary situation analysed here. In this context, Maoist terror arises from the creation of epistemic clarity—the possibility that on the other side norms and relationships will be more certain. This is a certainty that is carved out of uncertainty and ambivalence, a certainty that denies or projects away uncertainty. Its weapon is paranoia, an ability to make enemies where there would be doubt, betrayal where there would be benefit of the doubt. The potential revolutionary is therefore not only unsure about his/her ideological commitments, but moreover, a crucial component of their predicament might be an uncertainty about the social relations in which they find themselves and the hope that revolutionary engagement might come with more guarantees. Becoming a revolutionary is also about being in search of certainty.
- Berg, R. 1986. Sendero Luminoso and the Peasantry of Andahuaylas. Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 28 (4): 165–196. CrossRef
- Bhatia, B. 2000. The Naxalite Movement in Central Bihar. Cambridge: University of Cambridge.
- Caplan, P. 2006. Terror, Witchcraft and Risk. The Anthroglobe Journal, http://anthroglobe.info/docs/caplanp_witchcraft_060119.htm.
- Comaroff, J., and J. Comaroff. 1993. Modernity and its Malcontents: Ritual and power in postcolonial Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Communist Party of India (Maoist). 2004. Party Programme: Central Committee (P) Communist Party of India (Maoist).
- Das, V., A. Kleinman, M. Ramphele, and P. Reynolds (eds). 2000. Violence and subjectivity. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Douglas, M. 1970. Thirty years after witchcraft, oracles and magic. In Witchcraft confessions and accusations, ed. M. Douglas. London: Tavistock.
- Engelke, M. 2005. The early days of Johane Masowe: Self-doubt, uncertainty and religious transformation. Comparative Studies in Society and History 47 (4): 781–808. CrossRef
- Geschiere, P. 1997. The modernity of witchcraft: Occult in postcolonial Africa. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.
- Green, L. 1999. Fear as a way of life: Mayan widows in rural Guatemala. New York: Columbia University Press.
- Guha, R. 1999 (1983). Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India. Durham: Duke University Press.
- Guha, R. 2007. Adivasis, naxalites and Indian democracy. Economic and Political Weekly 11: 3305–3312.
- Kelly, T. 2008. The attractions of accountancy: understanding the ordinary during the second Palestinian Intifada. Ethnography 9 (3): 351–376. CrossRef
- Kunnath, G. 2006. Becoming a Naxalite in Rural Bihar: Class struggle and its contradictions. The Journal of Peasant Studies 33 (1): 89–123. CrossRef
- Mahmood, S. 2001. Feminist theory, embodiment, and the docile Agent: Some reflections on the Egyptian Islamic revival. Cultural Anthropology 16 (2): 202–236. CrossRef
- Miller, A. 2000. Are you now or were you ever? The Guardian/Observer.
- Mishra, T. 2007. Barrell of the Gun: The Maoist challenge and Indian democracy. Delhi: Sheriden Book Company.
- Ortner, S. 1995. Resistance and the problem of ethnographic refusal. Comparative Studies in Society and History 37 (1): 171–193. CrossRef
- Sanders, T., and H. West. 2003. Power revealed and concealed in the new world order. In Transparency and conspiracy: Ethnographies of suspicion in the new world order, ed. T. Sanders and H. West. Durham: Duke University Press.
- Scott, J. 1985. Weapons of the weak: Everyday forms of peasant resistance. Yale: Yale University Press.
- Shah, A. 2006. Markets of protection: the ‘terrorist’ maoist movement and the state in Jharkhand, India. Critique of Anthropology 26 (3): 297–314. CrossRef
- Shah, A. 2009. Morality, corruption and the state: Insights from Jharkhand, India. Journal of Development Studies 45 (3): 295–313. CrossRef
- Taussig, M. 1987. Colonialism, Shaminism, and the wild man: A study of terror and healing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Turnaturi, G. 2007. Betrayals: the unpredictability of human relations (trans: Cochrane, L.G.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- West, H., and T. Sanders (eds). 2003. Transparency and conspiracy: Ethnographies of suspicion in the new world order. Durham: Duke University Press.
- Willis, P. 1978. Learning to labour: How working class kids get working class jobs. Westmead: Saxon House.
- Worsley, P. 1957. The trumpet shall sound. New York: Schocken.
- In search of certainty in revolutionary India
Volume 33, Issue 3-4 , pp 271-286
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Netherlands
- Additional Links
- Alpa Shah (1)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Goldsmiths, University of London, London, UK