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Friday, June 15, 2007

Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India:

By Ashutosh Varshney
From the Publisher
"What kinds of civic ties between different ethnic communities can contain, or even prevent, ethnic violence? This book draws on new research on Hindu-Muslim conflict in India to address this important question. Ashutosh Varshney examines three pairs of Indian cities—one city in each pair with a history of communal violence, the other with a history of relative communal harmony—to discern why violence between Hindus and Muslims occurs in some situations but not others. His findings will be of strong interest to scholars, politicians, and policymakers of South Asia, but the implications of his study have theoretical and practical relevance for a broad range of multiethnic societies in other areas of the world as well. The book focuses on the networks of civic engagement that bring Hindu and Muslim urban communities together. Strong associational forms of civic engagement, such as integrated business organizations, trade unions, political parties, and professional associations, are able to control outbreaks of ethnic violence, Varshney shows. Vigorous and communally integrated associational life can serve as an agent of peace by restraining those, including powerful politicians, who would polarize Hindus and Muslims along communal lines."

Contents: Preface. I. Arguments and theories : 1. Introduction. 2. Why civil society? Ethnic conflict and the existing traditions of inquiry. II. The national level : 3. Competing national imaginations. 4. Hindu-Muslim riots, 1950-1995: the national picture. III. Local variations: Aligarh and Calicut: internal and external cleavages : 5. Aligarh and Calicut: civic life and its political foundations. 6. Vicious and virtuous circles. Hyderabad and Lucknow: elite integration versus mass integration: 7. Princely resistance to civil society. 8. Hindu nationalists as bridge builders? Ahmedabad and Surat: how civic institutions decline: 9. Gandhi and civil society. 10. Decline of a civic order and communal violence. 11. Endogeneity? Of causes and consequences. IV. Conclusions : 12. Ethnic conflict, the state, and civil society. Appendices : A. Questionnaire for the project on Hindu-Muslim relations in India. B. Data entry protocol for the riot database. C. Regression results: Hindu-Muslim riots, 1950-1995. Notes. Index. [source:]

From The Critics
  • Alfred Stepan
    Varshney’s rich findings about what types of civil society organizations and activities help contain religious conflict – and which do not – open up a whole new agenda for theorists and activists alike.
  • David Laitin
    Varshney has taken us a long way in understanding intra-Indian variations in communal violence,and he leaves a set of unanswered questions for future research. What more can be asked from a work of social science?
  • James C. Scott
    A landmark synthesis. Varshney’s comparison of communal violence and tranquillity in urban India is lucid,theoretically self-conscious,original,and empirically convincing. It should launch a veritable flotilla of comparable studies of civil life in its admirable wake.
  • Susanne Hoeber Rudolph
    South Asia scholars and social scientists will have to read Varshney,they will cite him,and they will learn from him.
  • Samuel P. Huntington
    Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life is an outstanding work of social science,one of the most important studies of ethnic violence to appear in many years. This book will decisively shape future scholarly research on this subject and deserves to have an important impact on public policy concerning ethnic conflict. [source:]

    The Punchline:
    "This is a remarkably good book. The empirical research is impeccable; the analysis is careful; and the argument is persuasive. The issue is simple: Why is it that certain towns in India erupt into communal violence and others do not?" says kashif @ Indian Muslims and The Muslim World

    "This is a must read book for leaders in civic socities, it is an eye opener for Muslims as well as Hindus.
    I had interviewed Ashutosh about 3 years ago on Radio,he is a brilliant speaker and knows his research like the back of his hand."
    I urge you to read the book. Mike Ghouse @ Indian Muslims
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