Seminar: "Keeping the Peace: Spatial Differences in Hindu–Muslim Violence in Gujarat in 2002" by Dr. Raheel Dhattiwala, University of Amsterdam
Even in the worst episodes of organized mass violence, some towns, villages, and neighbourhoods remain peaceful. What explains these spatial differences in violence? In Keeping the Peace, sociologist Raheel Dhattiwala argues that peace during collective violence can prevail even amid intergroup hostility and impassioned political motivations. Marshalling first-hand evidence from Hindu–Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002, this book provides the link between political ideologies leading to violence and the conditions for violence to actually happen. Dhattiwala begins by demonstrating the political logic of violence in Gujarat: the worst attacks on Muslims were orchestrated where the BJP faced the toughest electoral competition. Yet peace had prevailed in several places through an interplay of spatial layouts and cognitive decisions of people caught in the middle of violence. Rarely did attackers and targets of the violence abandon reason even in the face of heightened emotions. Armed with fine-grained statistical analyses and interviews with victims and perpetrators over five years in Ahmedabad, the book makes a strong case for peacekeeping during collective violence, regardless of regional context.
Bio: Raheel Dhattiwala is affiliated with the ERC-funded Group Violence project at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Formerly a journalist with the Times of India in Ahmedabad, Dhattiwala read for a doctoral degree in sociology at the University of Oxford. This book—her first—is based on five years of doctoral and postdoctoral research in Ahmedabad. Dhattiwala has also published with Politics & Society, Qualitative Sociology, Contemporary South Asia, and Economic & Political Weekly.