Paul Brass – Criminalization of Politics in India

Event Date: 9 October 2014
Royal Asiatic Society
Stephenson Way
London NW1 2HD


The Royal Asiatic Society presents:

Professor (Emeritus) Paul Brass (University of Washington) – Criminalization of Politics in India

Criminality is widespread in Indian politics, but there are some landmark districts in parts of Uttar Pradesh, which are famous for it. In my own recent field work in India, I have found the area in central U.P. around the districts of Firozabad, Farrukhabad, and Auraiya to be especially rich in criminality, involving fatal attacks on political rivals and kidnapping and killing even of children. However, it is widespread elsewhere, in other parts of U.P. Moreover, everybody knows who the criminal politicians are and most of them remain free to carry out their criminal activities or, rather, to have lackeys carry them out for them. The names and criminal history of the politicians who are notorious for such violence are well known and published in the newspapers. Very few of these known criminals ever spend time in jail, though there are some who do. Whether or not these criminals land in jail or not, and for how long depends upon their political relationship with the ruling party of the day.

Paul R. Brass is Professor (Emeritus) of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. He has published numerous books and articles on comparative and South Asian politics, ethnic politics, and collective violence. His work has been based on extensive field research in India during numerous visits since 1961. He has been a University of Washington faculty member and Professor, Department of Political Science and The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies since 1965. He received his B.A. in Government in 1958, Harvard College; his M.A. in 1959, in Political Science, University of Chicago; and his Ph.D. in 1964, in Political Science, University of Chicago. His teaching specializations include comparative politics (South Asia), ethnicity and nationalism as well as collective violence.
His most recent books are The Politics of Northern India: 1937 to 1987—Volume I (An Indian Political Life: Charan Singh and Congress Politics, 1937 to 1961) (SAGE, 2011), Routledge Handbook of South Asian Politics: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal (2010), Forms of Collective Violence: Riots, Pogroms, and Genocide in Modern India (2006), The Production of Hindu–Muslim Violence in Contemporary India (2003), Theft of an Idol: Text and Context in the Representation of Collective Violence (1997), Riots and Pogroms (1996), and The Politics of India since Independence, 2nd ed. (1994).

Introduction by Professor Peter Robb (RAS):





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