Emotions, Mobilisations and South Asian Politics: 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Emotions, Mobilisations and South Asian Politics

1st Edition

Edited by Amélie Blom, Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal

Routledge India

290 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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This book highlights the role of emotions in the contentious politics of modern South Asia. It brings new methodological, theoretical and empirical insights to the mutual constitution of emotions and mobilisations in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. As such, it addresses three distinct but related questions: what do emotions do to mobilisations? What do mobilisations do to emotions? Further, what does studying emotions in mobilisations reveal about the political culture of protest in South Asia?

The chapters in this volume emphasise that emotions are significant in politics because they have the power to mobilise. They explore a variety of emotions including anger, resentment, humiliation, hurt, despair, and nostalgia, and also enchantment, humour, pleasure, hope and enthusiasm. The interdisciplinary research presented here shows that integrating emotions improves our understanding of South Asian politics while, conversely, focusing on South Asia helps retool current thinking on the emotional dynamics of political mobilisations. The book offers contextual analyses of how emotions are publicly represented, expressed and felt, thus shedding light on the complex nature of protests, power relations, identity politics, and the political culture of South Asia.

This cutting-edge research volume intersects South Asian studies, emotion studies and social movement studies, and will greatly interest scholars and students of political science, anthropology, sociology, history and cultural studies, and the informed general reader interested in South Asian politics.


‘This remarkable volume brings together the best recent developments in the humanistic social sciences on affect, embodiment and politics. In addition, its authors provide brilliant ethnographies of a wide range of movements which exemplify the centrality of the emotions to mobilisation of every type in South Asia.’

Arjun Appadurai, Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University, USA

‘This collection of essays offers a coherent and comprehensive analysis of the role of emotion in South Asian politics and its methodological ramifications. Case studies and theoretical chapters explain the power of emotions in the making of collective action as well as individual trajectories on the basis of psychological and sociological considerations, which are neither culturalist, nor divorced from culture. This is one of the finest attempts at understanding one of the most complex objects of social sciences.’

Christophe Jaffrelot,CNRS Senior Researcher, CERI-Sciences Po, Paris, France

‘What moves social movements? When and how do movements move us? In offering us a beautifully curated set of reflections on emotion in South Asian public life, Blom and Tawa Lama-Rewal at the same time enrich our understanding of democracy as a global project.’

William Mazarella, Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences, University of Chicago, USA

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables

Abbreviations and Acronyms




1. Contentious Emotions: An Introduction

Amélie Blom and Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal


PART I: Bringing Emotions Back into South Asian Political Mobilisations: Theoretical and Methodological Perspectives

2. The Processes and Contexts of Emotional Involvement

Christophe Traïni

3. Participatory and Adversarial Politics: Representing Speech Action, Collective Action and Emotion

Lisa Mitchell

4. Remembering and Accessing the ‘Emotion of Things’: A Methodological Journey with a Jihadist Militant in Pakistan

Amélie Blom


PART II: Major Historical Shifts in the Public Expression of Emotions

5. Anger, Hurt and Enthusiasm: Mobilising for Violence, 1870–1920

Margrit Pernau

6. From Court to Public Sphere: How Urdu Poetry’s Language of Romance Shaped the Language of Protest

Carla Petievich

PART III: Subverting and Cementing Power Relations with Emotions

7. Emotions as Fuel: The Passage of Anti-Sexual Harassment Legislation in Pakistan

Sadaf Ahmad

8. It’s Effective Because It’s Affective: The Dynamics and Significance of Emotions in a Delhi Jan Sunwai

Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal

9. The Deployment of Resentment in Counterinsurgency: The Case of Chhattisgarh

Nandini Sundar


PART IV: Directing Affects Across the Elusive Boundaries of the Political

10. Mobilising Anger in Andhra Pradesh: The Emotional Politics of the Angry Young Man and Popular Telugu Cinema

Imke Rajamani

11. Hope and Nostalgia in Bengal: The Longing for Netaji in a Contemporary Millennial Movement

Raphaël Voix

12. Dialectics of (De)Mobilisation: Humour in Islamic Sermons of Contemporary Bangladesh

Max Stille


PART V: The Emotional Dynamics of Public Controversies

13. Hurt and Censorship in India Today: On Communities of Sentiments, Competing Vulnerabilities and Cultural Wars

Laetitia Zecchini

14. Death, Despair, and Democracy in Bangladesh

Nusrat Sabina Chowdhury




About the Editors

Amélie Blom is part of Adjunct Faculty in Political Science at Sciences Po, Paris and at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO), Paris, France. Her research addresses the politicisation of Islam in Pakistan, particularly in Punjab. Her publications include The Enigma of Islamist Violence (2007, co-edited with L. Bucaille and L. Martinez) and ‘Emotions and the Micro-foundations of Religious Activism: The Bitter-Sweet Experiences of "Born-Again" Muslims in Pakistan’ in Indian Economic and Social History Review (2017).

Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal is a National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) Research Fellow at the Center for South Asian Studies (CEIAS), Paris, France. She studies political representation, local democracy and urban governance in India. Her publications include Democratization in Progress: Women and Local Politics in Urban India (with Archana Ghosh, 2005) and Governing India’s Metropolises (co-edited with Joël Ruet, 2009).

About the Series

Exploring the Political in South Asia

Exploring the Political in South Asia is devoted to the publication of research on the political cultures of the region. The books in this Series will present qualitative and quantitative analyses grounded in field research, and will explore the cultures of democracies in their everyday local settings, specifically the workings of modern political institutions, practices of political mobilisation, manoeuvres of high politics, structures of popular beliefs, content of political ideologies and styles of political leadership, amongst others. Through fine-grained descriptions of particular settings in South Asia, the studies presented in this Series will inform, and have implications for, general discussions of democracy and politics elsewhere in the world.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies