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Accepted Paper:

The Ayodhya Dispute: Demolition, Damage and the Emergency Imaginary  
Deepak Mehta (Delhi School Of Economics)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines the legal judgments that deal with the demolition of the Babri mosque in December 1992. It shows that the demolition is informed by a circuitry of damage that is at once part of the imagination of emergency and part of a political ethic that constitutes notions of friend and foe.

Paper long abstract:



Deepak Mehta

In a previous paper I had argued that the elaboration of the status quo in the legal and administrative discourse of the Ayodhya dispute punctuated a notion of a present that took the form of interdiction. What distinguished the status quo in such proscription was a chain of circulating reference that adjudicated claims to property. Beginning with the placing of the Ram deity in the Babri mosque in 1949, these claims were marked by a series of discursive operations that dealt with the application of rule and procedure. Here, rules and procedures were not mere modes of classifying the Babri mosque complex; they also steered institutional action. Institutional action could not, or did not, allow for a finished understanding of the demolition of the mosque. This paper looks at the legal literature that deals with the demolition and argues that the destruction of the mosque enters into an economy of damage where different kinds of depreciations are used to understand the claims of contending groups. Such claims emerge from unstable signifying regimes that draw their resources from imagined modes of worship and ownership. My reading suggests that this imagination is motored simultaneously by the political and the aesthetic

Panel P34
Aesthetics, politics, conflict
  Session 1