Bert Suykens

Bert Suykens
Ghent University | UGhent · Department of Conflict and Development Studies

PhD

About

32
Publications
10,427
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245
Citations
Introduction
My work wants to understand the interaction between political violence, governance and public order in South Asia. In India, I have worked on the Naxalite conflict and on the north-east. My current project focusses on Bangladesh, where I use a mixed method approach, combining longitudinal content analysis and ethnographic techniques, to understand the role of political violence in democracies. Crucial is an understanding of public order in which ongoing violence can play a key constitutive role.

Publications

Publications (32)
Article
Full-text available
By closely analysing Naxalite propaganda material, I explain the functionality of martyrdom in the Maoist movement in India. I show that their concept of secular martyrdom is multifaceted, but can be traced to a mix of several elements in classical Maoist doctrine (sacrifice, dialectics, and critique). As such, the cult of the secular martyr serves...
Article
Full-text available
This article seeks to better understand political violence in Bangladesh. Analysing the case of student politics, the article enquires into the productive use of violence by student activists and leaders. It argues that student violence should not be considered as a breakdown of order or a sign of state fragility, but as a means of gaining access t...
Article
Around half a million cycle rickshaws are currently active in Dhaka, Bangladesh. With only 86,000 official licenses available, different types of organizations supply licenses to most rickshaw drivers. These non-official licenses mimic the language of the state. This article argues that while these licenses appear as part of non-state, hybrid, or t...
Book
Full-text available
Student groups play an important role in Bangladesh. Not only have student groups often been at the vanguard of crucial struggles – like the Language Movement (1947-1952), the Independence movement (1969-71) and the pro-democracy movement (1989-91) – but many contemporary politicians also have roots in student organizations. Student organizations a...
Article
In Bangladeshi student politics, political performances in public spaces play an essential role in establishing patronage relationships and determining local authority structures. As Thomas Blom Hansen has famously argued, “visibility means everything” in such a context. With the emergence of social networking sites like Facebook, new digital publi...
Article
The Politics of Order and Disturbance: Public authority, sovereignty, and violent contestation in South Asia - Volume 52 Special Issue - BART KLEM, BERT SUYKENS
Article
This article seeks to comprehend the way the illegal timber economy in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Council (BTAD) in Assam is integrated within a constellation of power and authority. Based on over ten months of ethnographic field research, our analysis shows that the timber trade is indeed characterized by what can be conceptualized as an...
Article
This article argues for the need to take time into account when understanding land ownership in slums. It shows that this allows comprehending more accurately the place of land law and the specific forms that legal struggles over land take. Field research in a slum in Chittagong (in Bangladesh) reveals that while contemporary practices of ownership...
Article
Since independence in 1971, both civilian and military regimes have ruled Bangladesh. As many other military regimes did, the latter civilianised their rule through the formation of political parties and participation in general elections. When diachronically analysing political formations in Bangladesh, it is appealing to make a clear-cut distinct...
Article
This article aims to conceptualize political relations in Bangladesh by building a descriptive model of these relations. It draws on the concept of segmentary opposition developed by Evans-Pritchard in his study of the Nuer political system and on the concept of vertical integration used in the study of both industrial relations and party structure...
Article
This article examines the relationship between the concept of neutrality in community mediation and partisan party politics in Nepal. Focusing on one donor-sponsored, US model-based community mediation programme in the Terai, this article contributes to a growing literature on authority formation and the role of party politicians in post-conflict N...
Chapter
Rebel groups vary in their organization of civilian governance. How insurgents understand the nature of their rebellion and their relation to the population living in territory in which they act guides their development of governance functions. Rebel doctrine varies according to whether rebels presume they share a pre-existing identity with particu...
Article
Through the lens of the ‘disappearance’ of a piece of land, this article analyses land relations in a Bangladeshi bastee (slum). The author builds an understanding of the local negotiation of ownership in an area where dakhal (forceful occupation) is the main starting point for the assessment of ownership. The property regime in the bastee emerges...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the relationship between the concept of neutrality in community mediation and the inherently partisan nature of politics. Mediation theory often highlights the central importance of mediator neutrality in mediation practice. We examine the interplay between these two fields through an analysis of a donor-supported community medi...
Article
Hartal, the general strike or total shutdown, is one of the defining features of politics in Bangladesh. While opposition parties proclaim it is one of their only weapons to put pressure on the ruling party, Bangladeshi middle classes and the international (donor) community view hartal as essentially disruptive. Focusing on the local organisation o...
Chapter
Post 9/11, exceptionalism has won popularity to describe the variety of processes resulting from a new security discourse, the war on terror and the treatment of terrorism suspects.1 Indeed, the central case to argue and counterargue the usefulness of the concept of the state of exception is the “modern camp” in Guantanamo Bay.2 Other key cases inc...
Article
In this article the IDP realities in the borderland between two states in central India, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, are investigated. The conflict in Chhattisgarh between a Maoist insurgent movement, better known as the Naxalites, and a state-sponsored vigilante group, the Salwa Judum, has created an IDP flow in the area. Starting from my own...
Article
Although the Naxalite (Maoist) influence in India stretches from the north of Bihar to the south of Andhra Pradesh, their impact on the political economy of the Indian countryside – and more specifically the tribal livelihood economy – remains understudied. As a first step to better understand this issue, I want to look at how resource access is me...
Article
This article examines two conflicting narratives concerning the relationship between tribals and forests in India—narratives that have been counterpoised in India at least since colonial times. The first narrative sees tribals as the natural protectors of the forest; the second argues that tribal practices are detrimental to forest conservation. Th...
Article
Bodoland, located in western Assam, has been a theatre for insurgencies since the mid 1980s. Too often, migration has been the paradigmatic framework to analyse not only this, but most conflicts, raging in Assam. In this article we argue that migration in itself is insufficient to understand the problems in Bodoland. Instead, we focus on forestry a...
Article
Conflict research about Northeast India tends to focus on ethnicity. Instead, this article argues that internal borders are fundamental to the understanding of conflict dynamics in Bodoland, Assam. By introducing three categories of internal borders - political, structural and symbolic - the author analyses the insurgency in northwest Assam by the...

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