Borders & beliefs: Ethics, actorhood, and the India -Pakistan conflict
Description This dissertation project examines why peace has continued to be elusive in the India-Pakistan context using ethnomethodological procedures and a relational social constructivist perspective that locates constitutive power in ongoing social processes instead of putatively existing substances. I suggest that we expand our focus beyond mere 'factors' that only help identify what issues are contentious and pay attention instead to 'actors' by analyzing the meaning-making practices in which our worlds cohere. To this end, I employ two analytical concepts: ethical imaginaries and articulation. Ethical imaginaries reveal the different rules that, for actors, circumscribe multiple ways of being themselves thereby highlighting the heterogeneity characteristic of the worlds we inhabit; these rules are ethical in so far that actors take into account how they have acted in the past and how they ought to act in the future to preserve the 'self' in a particular way. Articulation refers to the specific interpretive practices deployed in a given space-time particularity. The sites analyzed here include Bollywood films about India-Pakistan relations as well as first-hand interviews with Muhajirs in Pakistan, Muslims in India, and individuals who have been involved in Track II diplomacy efforts to understand the ethical imaginaries of 'Indian-ness' and 'Pakistani-ness' as well as the discourse around 'peace'. What this investigation reveals is that although both nations see in the 'other' a 'friend' with whom they have enough in common to share an amicable relationship, the prospects of peace are complicated by a culture of mistrust expressed in India's characterization of the 'Pakistani other' as 'religious fanatic' and Pakistan's perception of the 'Indian other' as a 'bully' that then renders peace complicated. I show how each of these articulations are framed by the ethical imaginary of the two-nation theory which formed the basis for the partition of India in 1947 on the grounds that Hindus and Muslims were distinct civilizational entities.
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