The moral politics of violent death in northeast India

01 January 2019 → Ongoing
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Other economics and business
    • Citizenship, immigration and political inequality
    • International and compartive politics
    • Multilevel governance
    • National politics
    • Political behaviour
    • Political organisations and institutions
    • Political theory and methodology
    • Public administration
    • Other political science
moral politic
Project description

This project wants to understand how rebel groups and societies deal with violent death as a part of
civil strife. While these deaths are often transformed into statistics, for instance to show the
intensity of a conflict or the success of (counter)insurgency, this project t wants to understand what
type of moral politics emerges out of violent death. Central is the classical distinction between the
body natural (the king) and body politic (the King), which was a key feature of the Tudorian
understanding of kingship and which has been discussed at length in the classic work of Kantorowicz
(1957): The king’s two bodies. It is hypothesized that moral politics emerges out of the tension
between the body natural and the body politic of those killed as part of civil strife. The act which
potentially transforms a (living) body natural into a (dead) body politic is at the heart of meaningmaking
in this context. Moreover, for the societies involved, and particularly for the families and
(extended) kin of the deceased, this tension between the loss of kin (as a body natural) through
violence and the potential political content of this killing also brings up a moral tension, in which the
distinction between private and public morality of death becomes salient. The research project will
try to better understand the moral politics of violent death and the tensions involved by a close
comparative study of violent death in two rebel groups (NDFB and ULFA) in Assam in Northeast