The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India

Paperback | June 14, 2005

byPaul R. Brass

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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.

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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 Aligar...

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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Format:PaperbackDimensions:448 pages, 9.02 × 5.98 × 1.3 inPublished:June 14, 2005Publisher:University Of Washington PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0295985062

ISBN - 13:9780295985060

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations Used in This BookMaps, Figures, and TablesPreface and Acknowledgments

Part I / Introduction1. Explaining Communal Violence

Part II / Communal Riots in India and Aligarh2. Aligarh: Politics, Population, and Social Organization3. Hindu-Muslim Violence in India and Aligarh4. The Great Aligarh Riots of December 1990 and January 19915. The Control of Communal Conflict in Aligarh

Part III / Demographic, Social, and Economic Factors in the Production of Riots6. The Geography and Demography of Riots7. The Economics of Riots: Economic Competition and Victimization

Part IV / Riots and the Political Process8. Riots and Elections9. The Practice of Communal Politics10. Communalization and Polarization: Selected Constituency-Wise Results for Aligarh Elections11. Communal Solidarity and Division at the Local Level12. The Decline of Communal Violence and the Transformation of Electoral Competition

Part V / The Process of Blame Displacement13. Riot Interpretation, Blame Displacement, and the Communal Discourse14. Police Views of Hindu-Muslim Violence15. The Role of the Media

Part IV / Conclusion16. The Persistence of Hindu-Muslim Violence: The Dynamics of Riot Production

Postscript: Aligarh and GujaratAppendicesNotesIndexIndex of Mohallas

Editorial Reviews

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.Brass is the leading South Asia political scientist in North America, and he brings to this work a maturity and a wealth of field experience unmatched by others. - N. Gerald Barrier, University of Missouri