Shruti Kapila (University of Cambridge), “A People's War: Fratricidal Fraternity and the Civil War of 1947” (abstract)
Focused primarily on Sardar Patel, this paper charts the historical transformation of India’s political horizon as sovereign. Patel is associated with the project of ‘unity’ that transformed freedom into an experience of sovereignty and was achieved through the aggressive incorporation of the people. In revising ‘partition violence’ as civil war, this paper argues that the concern with fraternity was transfigured into the dominant language and pursuit of sovereignty. This transfiguration was founded in the violence of civil war of 1947. In reconstructing political ideas and debates between key individuals I argue that the emphasis in mid-twentieth century was on what can be termed the ‘discovery of people’. At once the most crucial and yet elusive, ‘the people’, are neither natural nor a given category but an outcome of a violent history. The paper reconstructs the political thought of Patel as a thinker of sovereignty in relation to the fratricide of 1947 and further contextualises his thought and action in relation to Gandhi and Hindu nationalism but also global interlocutors and primarily Carl Schmitt.