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Halberstadt-Freud, H.C. (1998). The Colors of Violence. Cultural Identities, Religion, and Conflict. By Sudhir Kakar. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 1996. 217 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):515-518.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(3):515-518

The Colors of Violence. Cultural Identities, Religion, and Conflict. By Sudhir Kakar. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 1996. 217 pp.

Review by:
Hendrika C. Halberstadt-Freud

One part of the population eats cows, the other honors them as holy animals. How can two peoples with such diametrically opposed beliefs live together in the same space? This conflict is not a problem of India alone or one only social scientists should study. Sudhir Kakar, a psychoanalyst based in Delhi, has written several books on socio-psychological topics. Intimate Relations: Exploring Indian Sexuality deals with male-female relations, religion, and the subordinate position of women, except as mothers of sons. The Inner World: A Psychoanalytic Study of Childhood and Society in India explores the interface between culture, upbringing, and psyche. Shamans, Mystics and Doctors, based on anthropological fieldwork, explores the diverse modes of healing and ideas on what causes mental and physical pain in the Hindu and Muslim subcultures of India.

The present work is based in part on demanding and often risky fieldwork, exploring the minds of the victims as well as the perpetrators. The riots in Hyderabad in December 1990 form the starting point. These events are placed in their cultural, sociological, historical, and psychological contexts. In this city, founded by a Muslim king with a Hindu mistress in 1589, cooperation used to be the norm. Today the Muslim population has dwindled to a mere ten percent, occupying the poorest area of the inner city and experiencing themselves as beleaguered victims.

Kakar writes in an engaging personal style, not pretending, as many social scientists do, that he is merely a neutral observer of objective facts.

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