SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

Interrogating Communalism: Violence among Minorities in South India

Interrogating Communalism: Violence among Minorities in South India
Salah Punathil (University of Hyderabad)

Date: 22 May 2019Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 22 May 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: Alumni Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Seminar


The presentation is based on Salah Punathil’s recent book titled ‘Interrogating Communalism: Violence, Citizenship and Minorities in South India’ published by Routledge.His work deals with a relatively unexplored theme of the conflict and violence among religious minorities in the Kerala state of South India. By exploring the long history of violence among two distinctive fishing communities, namely the Marakkayar Muslims and Mukkuvar Christians, the work problematises the taken-for-granted notion of ‘mobilization of religious identity’ implicit in the discourse on communal violence and foregrounds the spatial dynamics in violent conflicts. The rich empirical evidence presented through both historical and ethnographic exploration in the work not only explains spatially embedded violence within the minorities and interrogates the communalism framework, but also establishes a case to argue how the contours of violence among minorities invariably positions Muslims as more vulnerable subjects of violent conflicts in India. While meticulously tracking the trajectory of an almost century-old history of violence among Muslims and Christians in the coastal localities of Southern Kerala, the work demonstrates how this trajectory also accompanies a systematic marginalization of the Marakkayar Muslims and how they are even subjects to manifest state violence in the recent past.


Salah Punathil is a sociologist and Assistant Professor at the Centre for Regional Studies, University of Hyderabad, India. He is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Gottingen, Germany. His research interest includes ethnic violence in India, migration, citizenship, Muslims in South Asia and the intersection of archives and ethnography. His book titled ‘Interrogating Communalism: Violence, Citizenship and Minorities in South India’ (2019) by Routledge is out very recently. He has published articles in journals such as South Asia Research and Contributions to Indian Sociology. Punathil is the recipient of M.N Srinivas Award for Young Indian Sociologist, 2015.

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Organiser: SOAS South Asia Institute

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