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Mehdi, Z. (2017). The Colors of Violence: Cultural Identities, Religion, and Conflict Sudhir Kakar University of Chicago Press, 1995, 232 pp.. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 14(3):247-249.

(2017). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 14(3):247-249

The Colors of Violence: Cultural Identities, Religion, and Conflict Sudhir Kakar University of Chicago Press, 1995, 232 pp.

Review by:
Zehra Mehdi

As the celebrated Indian psychoanalyst, Sudhir Kakar, theorizes about Muslim Identity, one might expect that he would explain the psychodynamlcs of fundamentalism by exploring how much Islamic fundamentalism has to do with Islam Itself and what elements of It belong to fundamentalism as a psychic mechanism. However, for Kakar, fundamentalism is “fundamental” to Muslims; a result of their “persecutory anxiety of Hindus” (p. 231). His ethnographic study of communal violence In 1990s Hyderabad, India, can be read as a psychoanalytic explanation of “Why Muslims are fundamentalists?” (And Hindus are not!)

It is not surprising then that the chapter on Muslim Identity Is titled: “Muslim fundamentalist identity.” Kakar explained in the chapter how Muslims are fundamentalists because they “can't stop hating” (p. 219), unlike the victim who Is unable to hate. In effect for Kakar, Muslims aren't victims. When his book was published, this theorlzatlon came in the face of then recent history of the BabrI Masjld (Mosque) demolition in 1992 that was followed by communal violence across the country, most viciously in Bombay in 1993. Even when political scientists asserted the fact of mass violence and killing of thousands (Jefferlot, 1996; Ludden, 1996) and historians Identified the Bombay riots as “antl Muslim pogrom” (Metcalf, 2006, p. 31), Kakar's theorlzatlon insisted on how Muslims aren't “victims.” Stating

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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