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Life, Emergent

The Social in the Afterlives of Violence

2016
Author:

Yasmeen Arif

Life, Emergent

Understanding biopolitics anew, through life and not death, in the aftermath of mass violence

Life, Emergent challenges conventional understandings of biopolitics, weaving a politics of life through the lens of life, not death. Arguing that the “letting die” element of biopolitics has been overemphasized, Yasmeen Arif zeroes in on “making live,” highlighting the means and forms of life configured in the aftermath—or afterlives—of violent events in contexts of law, justice, community, and identity.

In posing the relation of the social to the question of life, Yasmeen Arif compellingly lays out what a potential politics of life looks like in the aftermath of mass violence and trauma. This is a courageous and important work.

Roberto Esposito, author of Bíos: Biopolitics and Philosophy

How does an inquiry into life as it lives (or dies) amid mass violence look like from the perspective of the “social”? Taking us from Sierra Leone to India to Lebanon, Life, Emergent challenges conventional understandings of biopolitics, weaving a politics of life through the lens of life, not death.

Arguing that the “letting die” element of biopolitics has been overemphasized, Yasmeen Arif zeros in on biopolitics’ other pole: “making live.” She does so by highlighting the various means and the forms of life configured in the aftermath—or afterlives—of violent events in contexts of law, justice, community, and identity. Her analysis of the social repercussions is both global and local in scope. Arif examines the convictions made in the Special Court of Sierra Leone, the first hybrid court of its nature under international criminal law. Next, she explores the making of a justice movement in the context of Hindu–Muslim violence in 2002 in the state of Gujarat, India. From there she revisits the Sikh carnage in Delhi of 1984. Finally, she explores a span of civil violence in Lebanon, and particularly, its effects on the city of Beirut.

This rigorously argued book brings together the various strands of life and the social that each chapter has disentangled—and in doing so it begins to frame a politics of, and in, life.

Life, Emergent

Yasmeen Arif is associate professor of sociology at the University of Delhi, India.

Life, Emergent

In posing the relation of the social to the question of life, Yasmeen Arif compellingly lays out what a potential politics of life looks like in the aftermath of mass violence and trauma. This is a courageous and important work.

Roberto Esposito, author of Bíos: Biopolitics and Philosophy

In this compassionate account of communities riven by biopower and violence, Yasmeen Arif powerfully responds to those who would find in our collective future only more violence, trauma, resentment, and vendetta. In this compelling and fearless account, she invites us, rather, to reimagine what comes after traumatized, bare life to change the way we understand and respond to contemporary violence.

Timothy Campbell, Cornell University

Life, Emergent is an impressive demonstration of the merits of the comparative method to show how the ordinary and the extraordinary are knitted together in situations of disaster. Arif writes with great compassion and attention to detail that is both world attentive and locally grounded. A splendid achievement!

Veena Das, Johns Hopkins University

Life, Emergent

Contents
Introduction. Afterlife: Violence, the Social, and Life
1. The International Social: Humanity, Crime, and Law in Sierra Leone
2. Compassionate Citizenship: Nyayagraha, Gandhi, and Justice in Gujarat
3. Wounding Attachment: Suffering, Surviving, and Community in Delhi
4. Emotional Geographies: War, Nostalgia, and Identity in Beirut
5. Bios, Pathos, and Life Emergent
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index