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Question Marks Seminar Series: How is public authority linked to violence i...

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William Macmahon Ball Theatre

Old Arts Building

University of Melbourne

Parkville, VIC 3010

Australia

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Violence in politically contested environments is often seen as a failure of democracy or the state’s ability to govern its populace. This Question Marks seminar brings together scholars from different disciplines to discuss a new special issue on public authority and violence in South Asia published in Modern Asian Studies.

The special issue explores the construction of public authority in contested political environments of South Asia. Rather than diagnosing violent contentions as a failure of state governance or democracy, the contributions show how violence is embedded in the workings of pluriform politics and the state. The articles in the special issue illustrate the ways in which politicians, civil servants, community leaders, clergymen, rebel movements and goondas establish public authority in South Asia, including cases from Nepal, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.


The speakers are Dr Bart Klem (editor of the special issue),Dr Jeff Redding,Dr Jonathan Balls, Dr Haripriya Rangan, and Professor Robin Jeffrey. Professor Robin Jeffrey will comment on the afterword of the special issue “Whose Public, Whose Authority? Reflections on the moral force of violence,” written by Thomas Blom Hansen.


About the speakers

Dr Bart Klem is a DECRA fellow in Development Studies at the University of Melbourne. His research mainly focuses on conflict and peace building, development cooperation, politics, de facto sovereignty and public authority in (violently) contested environments and transitional contexts. Most of his work engages with Sri Lanka, where he has been working for the past fifteen years. His recent work focuses on the “sovereign mimicry” of the Tamil Tigers. His DECRA, which started in 2018, comprises an institutional ethnography of post-war governance in north and east Sri Lanka.

Dr Jeff Redding is a New Generation Network Scholar at the Australia India Institute and a Senior Research Fellow at the Melbourne Law School. Jeff’s research interests are in the areas of comparative law and religion, Islamic law, legal pluralism, family law, and law & sexuality. He earned his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. While with the AII and the Melbourne Law School, Jeff will further his study of a network of non-state Muslim courts in India and the relationship of the Indian state with these Muslim courts. One of his current research projects also concerns recent developments in transgender rights in both Pakistan and India.


Professor Robin Jeffrey is an Emeritus Professor of the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University. Professor Jeffrey studied at Canada’s University of Victoria in British Columbia and the University of Sussex in the UK. His special interest is in the modern history and politics of India. Professor Jeffrey maintains an interest in matrilineal societies and his two other main interests are ‘development’ in a wide sense (Politics, Women and Well-Being) and newspapers and media (India’s Newspaper Revolution).


Associate Professor Haripriya Rangan is Director of Research and Academic Programs at the Australia India Institute. She trained as an architect and urban planner in India and holds a doctoral degree in urban and regional development from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Her research focuses on regional development and responsible natural resource management in various parts of the Indian Ocean region, including South Africa, India, and Australia.


Dr Jonathan Balls is a New Generation Network Scholar at the Australia India Institute and the School of Geography. He holds a D. Phil in Geography from Oxford University. His research occupies the intersection of economic geography, development studies, and sustainable energy infrastructure. He works on frugal innovation and entrepreneurship and the expansion of clean energy markets and governance in India.

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William Macmahon Ball Theatre

Old Arts Building

University of Melbourne

Parkville, VIC 3010

Australia

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