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State, Violence, and Legitimacy in India$
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Santana Khanikar

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199485550

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199485550.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 02 March 2021

Torture, Notions of ‘Justice’, and Petty Sovereigns

Torture, Notions of ‘Justice’, and Petty Sovereigns

(p.55) 2 Torture, Notions of ‘Justice’, and Petty Sovereigns
State, Violence, and Legitimacy in India

Santana Khanikar

Oxford University Press

This chapter asks the questions of why and how police personnel engage in torture and how such practices impact and shape the self-understanding of those who enact the violence of the state. Drawing on ethnographic field-material including long conversations with police personnel, the chapter argues that illegal violence is not always carried out by hiding it or by renaming it as legal force. Violence is often sustained due to its glorification as a way of delivering ‘justice’ beyond the liberal-constitutional model. By deciding to torture and kill beyond the limits of law, police personnel display operation of a sovereign power at the locales. Torture in police stations is so routine, that they are often used merely for impressing spectators. At another level the chapter also discusses how the practices of torture are produced as ‘visible’ and ‘invisible’ at the same time.

Keywords:   morality of violence, police vigilantism, sacrificial violence, sovereignty, spectatorial violence, torture

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