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Was there discrimination in the distribution of resources after the earthquake in Gujarat? Imagination, epistemology, and the state in western India

Simpson, Edward (2008) Was there discrimination in the distribution of resources after the earthquake in Gujarat? Imagination, epistemology, and the state in western India. London: London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Abstract

In this paper, I analyse and reason with the patterns of discrimination evident in the reconstruction initiatives following the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat. I do so in order to explain what discrimination there was, and how and why such discrimination was related to broader patterns of social polarisation. After the earthquake, the political state of Gujarat made the headlines following widespread violence in 2002. This led to a flurry of publications in which anger and indignation led to the over-statement of the links between the government, social life in the state, and the politics of religious (Hindu-Muslim) communalism. This paper is an attempt to chip away to the impression thus created of a land consumed only by the violent compulsions of Hindu nationalism. I do so not through polemic, but ethnography, as a way of suggesting it is simply wrong to conflate state complicity in the anti-Muslim violence of 2002 with all other routine operations performed by government. Given Gujarat’s reputation for Hindu nationalism, my analysis unsurprisingly confirms the scholarship of others by showing how some powerful Hindu-oriented non-governmental organisations have drawn power and resources away from the state to parade before the people as if they govern. However, more importantly, the ethnography of the mixed-fortunes of Muslims in the rubble also illustrates some of the limits to the power of the Hindu nationalists: the data shows that the Hindu nationalists have not hijacked the state in its entirety and their influence is clearly curtailed and imperfect. By clothing the Hindu nationalist in unassailably powerful terms, the academic critic, I argue, has paradoxically almost become culpable in the success of the nationalist, by conferring on their rhetoric the status of reality, and on them power.

Item Type: Monographs (Working Paper)
Additional Information: ©2008 Edward Simpson, NGPA, London School of Economics
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Anthropology and Sociology
Copyright Statement: © 2008 Edward Simpson, NGPA, London School of Economics
Depositing User: Edward Simpson
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2008 10:41
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/5581

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