The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India

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University of Washington Press, 2005 - History - 476 pages
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Chronic Hindu-Muslim rioting in India has created a situation in which communal violence is both so normal and so varied in its manifestations that it would seem to defy effective analysis. Paul R. Brass, one of the world's preeminent experts on South Asia, has tracked more than half a century's riots in the north Indian city of Aligarh. This book is the culmination of a lifetime's thinking about the dynamics of institutionalized intergroup violence in northern India, covering the last three decades of British rule as well as the entire post-Independence history of Aligarh.
Brass exposes the mechanisms by which endemic communal violence is deliberately provoked and sustained. He convincingly implicates the police, criminal elements, members of Aligarh's business community, and many of its leading political actors in the continuous effort to "produce" communal violence. Much like a theatrical production, specific roles are played, with phases for rehearsal, staging, and interpretation. In this way, riots become key historical markers in the struggle for political, economic, and social dominance of one community over another.
In the course of demonstrating how riots have been produced in Aligarh, Brass offers a compelling argument for abandoning or refining a number of widely held views about the supposed causes of communal violence, not just in India but throughout the rest of the world. An important addition to the literature on Indian and South Asian politics, this book is also an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the interplay of nationalism, ethnicity, religion, and collective violence, wherever it occurs.
Paul R. Brass is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Washington. He is the author of many books including Theft of an Idol and Riots and Pogroms.
 

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Contents

Explaining Communal Violence
5
COMMUNAL RIOTS IN INDIA AND ALIGARH
41
Aligarh Politics Population and Social Organization
43
HinduMuslim Violence in India and Aligarh
60
The Great Aligarh Riots of December 1990 and January 1991
116
The Control of Communal Conflict in Aligarh
132
DEMOGRAPHIC SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC FACTORS IN THE PRODUCTION OF RIOTS
147
The Geography and Demography of Riots
149
The Decline of Communal Violence and the Transformation of Electoral Competition
296
THE PROCESS OF BLAME DISPLACEMENT
303
Riot Interpretation Blame Displacement and the Communal Discourse
305
Police Views of HinduMuslim Violence
328
The Role of the Media
344
CONCLUSION
353
The Persistence of HinduMuslim Violence The Dynamics of Riot Production
355
Aligarh and Gujarat
385

The Economics of Riots Economic Competition and Victimization
199
RIOTS AND THE POLITICAL PROCESS
217
Riots and Elections
219
The Practice of Communal Politics
240
Communalization and Polarization Selected ConstituencyWise Results for Aligarh Elections
262
Communal Solidarity and Division at the Local Level
286
Appendices
393
Notes
413
Index
463
Index of Mohallas
475
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About the author (2005)

Paul R. Brass is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Washington. He is the author of many books including Theft of an Idol and Riots and Pogroms.

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