Britta Ohm's picture
Affiliated Fellow
Britta Ohm

When looking at extensive anti-minority and genocidal violence that has occurred over the past three decades in various places world-wide, such as former Yugoslavia, Chechnya, Rwanda, Darfur etc., the 2002 violence against the Muslim minority in the Indian State of Gujarat, though smaller in scale, stands out not merely as one that has been extensively televised. Rather, it emerges as the only one that that has been covered live by commercially competing television networks from the same country. Put differently: the abundance of information and imagery of the violence-as-it-happened that has been churned out at Indian audiences by regional and national (i.e. not international/Western) networks has been unprecedented and remained unmatched. While this coverage can clearly be attributed both to India's democratic constitution and an acute democratization process in media and society, the 'media witnessing' of the violence as anti-minority in motivation essentially failed. Instead, the event has been turned into an abiding matter of polarized opinion and political ideology – a Muslim/terrorist-provoked carnage to many, just another episode of 'Hindu-Muslim rioting' to others, and a Hindutva-organized anti-Muslim pogrom to a much smaller, however continuously vocal section of activists and journalists – alongside the fast and near-exhausting growth and dissemination of various, increasingly convergent media since 2002. While this ongoing polarization appears to bespeak the very irreconcilability of anti-minority violence with democracy, it has also unfolded lasting repercussions on the organization of discourses, image production and journalism that now hold global significance.

Field

  • Political/Media Anthropology

Country of origin

Germany

Period of stay at IIAS

01/09/2018 to 31/07/2019

Home institute

Research topic

The Undisputed Land: The Gujarat Pogrom and Mediatized Democracy in India

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