Political Conflict, Gender and People’s Rights Project

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Enabling Critical Thought and Inquiry

The Political Conflict, Gender and People’s Rights Project is housed at the Center for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley. This Project focuses on political conflict and gendered and sexualized violence at the intersections of minoritization, majoritarianism, the racialization of difference, and decolonial movements. Interdisciplinary in practice and rooted in local knowledge, the project contends with the condition of quotidian and protracted violence and the contested terrain of social justice and people’s rights, to understand how those affected/those “Othered” live with social suffering and death-bound conditions and ameliorate their effects, define mechanisms for transitional, transformative, and reparatory justice, seek psychosocial healing and political solutions, and undertake the work of memorialization. Expanding on methods in justice and accountability, diverse imaginaries, and situated and comparative contexts that address states of emergency and exception, and espouse the right to justice and healing, the project works with a collaborative network of victimized-survivor-subjects, scholars, and academic and civil society leaders and institutions. The project focuses on the centrality of political and foundational violence in nation-states of the (post)colony, initially with particular emphasis on South Asia.

The Armed Conflict Resolution and People’s Rights Project, instituted in April 2012 at the Center for Social Sector Leadership, Haas School of Business, was precursor to the Political Conflict, Gender and People’s Rights Project. After completion of its first and successful phase, the project moved to the Center for Race and Gender (CRG) in January 2016, to further enable the interdisciplinary commitments of the project in the next phase of its work. A pioneering, interdisciplinary research center, CRG houses research initiatives and working groups concerned with race and gender (as well as coloniality and other relations of power), allowing them to develop freely and flourish. 

Temporal and spatial, landscapes of political and foundational violence contour capillaries and relations of power that are prohibitive and productive, constituting and circumscribing forms of knowledge, subjectivity and governance. In the (post)colony in South Asia, apparatuses of majoritarian, (trans)nationalist, and religionized violence and militarization assist in the securitization of nation (toward assimilation, elimination, and annihilation). Across conflict zones and spaces of mass violence, violent death and the threat of death, maiming, disappearances, and dispossession function to routinize states of emergency, siege and exception. Conflict-based and upheaval-ridden political economies witness the dramatic amplification of social inequities under neoliberal, majoritarian states. Violence in conflict and upheaval is disbursed through “extrajudicial” means and those authorized by law and politics. Targeted communities and decolonial movements, too, use violence as response. Death and social death, prevalent across the culturescape and in the social sub-strata, are memorialized via language and iconography.

How are archaeologies of violence illustrative of the gendered, racialized and religionized dynamics of minoritization? How are the conditions and events of violence gendered and sexualized? How do assemblages of racialization and gendering constitute death-bound subjects? How is violence used to sustain and re-work the minoritization of an Other? What critical practices of mourning, memorialization and the sacred emerge in response to a politics of violence that agentizes multiple relations to justice, struggle, difference and accountability?

Students: The project provides internship opportunities for exceptional graduate students and select undergraduate students from UC Berkeley and other institutions, and from local communities. The Project engages age-appropriate youth from affected communities in the work of documenting remembrance, and creating an archive andcurated presentations.