The functional use of religious identity for the production of ethnic riots: an analysis of sources

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This paper inspects the relationship between Hindu communal discourse and Hindu-Muslim riots. It examines how conflict entrepreneurs employ religious discourse, utilize religious networks, and attack religious symbols in order to condition an ambivalent acceptance of anti-Muslim violence among non-elite Hindu communities. Localities exhibiting endemic outbursts of Hindu-Muslim riots are, most often, pre-planned productions meant to create and reinforce new stigmatisations of Muslims among the majority Hindu population. Designed to generate a collective Hindu anxiety, these riots offer the ability to impose the belief that Hindus are under siege by their Muslim neighbours. Thus, Hindu-Muslim riots are opportunities desired by conflict entrepreneurs to maintain their influence in particular localities. This paper also provides an analysis of the various propositions put forth to explain why communal violence occurs in order to clarify misnomers, which, effectually, have obscured the linkages between ethnic violence, identity construction, and Hindu communal discourse.
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