This introductory chapter describes a cultural history of violence associated with widely divergent ideas of India after 1947—an India post-British Raj, post-Partition, post-Independence, and postcolonial. Communal violence, ethnonationalist insurgencies, terrorism, and counterinsurgent state violence have marked the postcolonial Indian nation-state since its very inception, often intersecting with prevailing forms of gendered violence within communities. These forms of violence have frequently indexed a serious disjoint between communally and regionally specific ideas of nationhood on the one hand, and the politically bounded, militarily enforced entity known as “India” on the other. In addition, the book is part of a wider feminist undertaking to critically examine how violence is conceptualized in the many discourses that shape public consciousness in the Indian subcontinent and its diasporic extensions.
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