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This paper engages with retrospective accounts of young Dalit men and their participation in communal conflict of 2002 in Gujarat, Ahmedabad. My ethnographic landscape is Gomtipur, a densely populated mixed (Dalit and Muslim) suburban neighbourhood that developed in the 1960s and 70’s to house the migrant mill workers that moved into the city from Gujarat and other parts of India. The deindustrialisation process of the 80s and the subsequent rise of Hindu nationalism in the neighbourhoods meant that the 1990s and 2000 saw increasing segregation on religious lines and rise in communal conflicts. Second and third generation migrant men were recruited into the nationalist project as ‘foot soldiers’ to execute violence in 2002. Material benefits and social mobility have been explained as the main explanations for their participation. These narratives when juxtaposed against the history of de-industrialisation in the area reveal their ambiguous and contradictory relationship with Hindu Nationalism, their justifications for participation in violence and a nuanced and structured co-option through signs, symbols and a systematic recreation of caste and class hierarchies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSouth Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies
Publication statusSubmitted - 2019


  • Masculinities, urban violence, Ahmedabad 2002, foot soldiers, Gender, Dalit youth.

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


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