Democracy and Social Cleavage in India
Ethnography of Riots, Everyday Politics and Communalism in West Bengal c. 2012–2021
This book explores the emergence of identity politics and violence at the forefront of political life in an Indian state. Through a close reading of everyday politics in West Bengal, India, which until recently boasted of the longest-serving elected communist government in the world, the volume presents unique observations on Indian politics and its trajectories.
One of the first ethnographic studies of religious polarisation and its interface with politics in West Bengal, this book:
- Offers a fresh perspective, both theoretically and empirically, by using longitudinal, multi-site ethnography, to explain the mechanisms by which identity issues have re-emerged;
- Studies key policy changes, political practices and series of invented traditions during periods of political transition;
- Examines intricate details of the micro-dynamics of the formulation and expansion of Hindu and Islamic fundamentalism and their political counterparts, which carry a capacity to push away secular, democratic forces from the existing political spectrum;
- Sheds light on the mechanisms of riots, its design, organisational bases and mechanisms of spread;
- Includes key observations from the 2021 elections in the state.
The volume will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of political science, social and cultural anthropology, sociology and South Asian studies.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction 2. Culture, power and misrecognitions in West Bengal 3. The Changing Trajectories in Bengal Violence: From Party to Identity 4. Islamic fundamentalism and an innocent ignorance 5. Aggressive Hindutva, its Organisations and Mechanisms 6. When Fundamentalists Meet: The Riots 7. The Grandeur of Cultural Misrecognition, India meets Bengal 8. Conclusions
Suman Nath teaches anthropology as Assistant Professor at Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Government College, Kolkata, India. He did his PhD jointly under faculties from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta and the University of Calcutta, India in Anthropology. Since 2007, he has been researching on issues of politics of resource allocation, which includes a stint as Research Associate at Public Policy and Management Group, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, India. His books include a monograph, titled People-Party-Policy Interplay in India (2020), a co-authored volume on Sexuality, Identity and Health (2014), and Theory, Policy, Practice: Development and Discontents in India, a collection of essays co-edited with Debraj Bhattacharya (2022). He has also published in international journals on issues of politics, corruption and governance. He was awarded to participate in different research programmes organised by the UNDP, Planning Commission and SaciWATERs. Apart from his academic publications, Suman runs a couple of internationally recognised blogs and writes popular articles in Little Magazines and Bengali dailies.