ConvenorsDr. Sandhya Fuchs - The University of Edinburgh
Sharib Ali - University of Bern
Over the last decade South Asia has witnessed a steep rise in communal violence and identity-based attacks. India, specifically, has seen a growing and explosive discourse around hate speech and hate crime. Targeted attacks against Dalits (ex-untouchables) and Muslims have escalated under the current government, which has embarked on a policy of majoritarian Hindu nationalism (Chatterji et al. 2019).
These controversies have have put the spotlight on the role of South Asia’s legal institutions in addressing histories of antagonism and prejudice. In India, scholars and activist groups have called for the introduction of comprehensive hate crime legislation to document, investigate and punish identity-based crimes against all minorities (Citizens Against Hate 2018a). However, critics have proposed that hate crime laws can deepen identity-based prejudice (Bhat, Bajaj and Kumar 2020).
These debates raise urgent questions: Can South Asian courts and policing structures be effective sites to address deep histories of identity-based violence and inequality? Is the framework of hate, which originally arose in the global North, a helpful way to think about oppression and social inequalities in postcolonial nations? How do historically marginalized groups in South Asia recognize and “name” particular statements as hateful and how do they make their experiences legible to the courts? And how do legal actors engage with long histories of discrimination when investigating and judging cases involving targeted attacks against minorities?
For this panel we invite scholars to explore pressing conceptual question about the social, political and legal life of hate, and identity-based attacks violence in South Asia. We are especially interested in contributions from scholars working on policing, communal violence, caste atrocities and courts. Ultimately, we aim to explore if legal institutions in South Asia are themselves implicated in processes of marginalization?