Managing 'problematic' populations: militarisation and governance in South Asia

Urs Geiser (University of Zurich)
Start time:
25 July, 2014 at 15:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel analyses the different ways in which the modern state in South Asia governs and manages 'problematic' populations. It focuses on the growing tendency of the state to use violence to manage dissenting groups and the questions raised by the linkages between governance and militarisation.

Long abstract:

This panel analyses the ways in which the postcolonial state in South Asia manages 'problematic' populations. In particular, it investigates the use of violence for containing certain groups, and how such practices are increasingly becoming part of techniques of governance. Although there is a significant body of literature that has used Foucauldian perspectives on governmentality to analyse the colonial state, academic work on how the South Asian state has managed 'problematic' groups is limited. The work that does exist has also tended to use a Foucauldian approach, and has thus predominantly focused on non-violent ways in which the state reforms or contains 'problematic' groups. As a result, the linkages between militarisation and governance have remained unexplored. Examples from the region - ranging from the state-led attack against the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka to the Pakistani military's operation in the country's tribal areas - are indicative of a tendency of the state to use force to manage dissenting groups. Moreover, such operations are often used by ruling parties as examples of their effectiveness and capability to govern. Such incidences open up a host of questions that this panel seeks to answer. What are the linkages between militarisation and governance, and how have such interactions affected notions of governance? Why is violence against particular groups accepted in the mainstream while aggression against others becomes cause for public outrage? And finally, how do such instances of violence reflect upon the nature of the state and its relationship with citizens?