Noted American political scientist Paul Brass, who penned Charan Singh’s biography, passes away at 85

Paul R Brass wrote books titled ‘Forms of Collective Violence’ and ‘Theft of an Idol and The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India’ which are highly regarded in academia

Noted American political scientist Paul Brass, who penned Charan Singh’s biography, passes away at 85
user

NH Political Bureau

Famous for his seminal works on communalism and three-part biography of former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, American political scientist Paul R Brass has died at the age of 85.

Intellectuals, academicians, poets and writers mourned the demise of Brass who has done ground-breaking research and produced seminal works on communal politics.

He was serving as emeritus of political science at Seattle’s University of Washington.

Frank Conlon, Brass’s friend and professor emeritus of history, South Asian studies and comparative religion at the University of Washington, announced the news of his demise on Thursday.

“Paul was a prolific and original scholar who explored comparative and South Asian politics, ethnic politics, communalism and collective violence,” Conlon posted on social media.

Brass is best remembered for his research and analysis of communal riots that took part in north India, especially in western Uttar Pradesh.

Apart from Chaudhary Charan Singh’s biography, his books “Forms of Collective Violence” and “Theft of an Idol and The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India” are highly regarded in academia.


A regular columnist at Economic & Political Weekly, Brass extensively wrote on ‘Coalition Politics in North India’ in the late 1960s.

“[Charan Singh] came from a humble background and from the countryside, though he was no country bumpkin, but a self-made man of high intellect and spoke for a new social movement, that of the backward castes of northern India, whose interest he always promoted and, in whose advancement, he played the most important role,” reads a snippet from the biography on Brass’s website.

“RIP Paul Brass! Your “Theft of an Idol” and “Language, Religion and Politics in North India” were seminal, shaping scholarship and leaving a huge impact,” tweeted professor and columnist Ashutosh Varshney, with whom Brass shared a professional rivalry in the early 2000s.

“Read the RSS chief with Paul Brass. Understand the way violence happens: Rehearsal, Enactment and Explanation and Interpretation. ‘Vyakti Nirman’ is that rehearsal: preparing the actor for violence. The interpretative community has now expanded,” wrote Apoorvanand, a professor of Hindi at the Delhi University.

Click here to join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines