Book Project: The Politics of Unmixing: Riots, Segregation and Votes in India

Do ethnic riots have long-term electoral consequences?

While strategic political calculations are said to play a key role in the production of ethnic riots, existing studies illuminate only how riots shape electoral competition in the short-term. Drawing on a study of the Hindu-Muslim violence in India, this dissertation argues that ethnic riots may also be thought of as a particularly brutal spatial strategy, designed by political actors to violently refashioning social geography in ways that highlight and fix an ethnic divide in the long-term.

Briefly, I advance a two-part hypothesis: (1) recurrent and severe riots shift the ethnic composition of electoral constituencies, constructing homogeneous constituencies where relative heterogeneity had been the norm - following Brubaker I name this process 'ethnic unmixing' (Brubaker 1995; 1998); and (2) greater ethnic homogeneity at the constituency level promotes lasting electoral support for ethnic parties.

The implications of the dissertation are far-reaching because they suggest that riots help ethnic parties gain, maintain or increase their hold on power in more enduring ways than other electoral strategies that have received more attention in the literature, such as programmatic appeals, patronage and welfare provision. This dissertation articulates and tests several hypotheses about the efficacy of this spatial strategy in promoting long-term electoral support for matching ethnic parties, employing a mixed methods research design that combines large-N statistical analysis with extensive in-depth case study research. In doing so, the dissertation utilizes original quantitative data on religious demography at the local level in India, extensive interviews, and archival data gathered during 13 months of field research in India.

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Whither Love? Positive Attachments in Early Modern Political Philosophy

What role do positive attachments play in the political thought of Machiavelli and Hobbes?

A fine body of literature in political theory emphasizes the role of ‘fear’ in the writings of early modern political thinkers Nicollo Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes. While recognizing the important contribution of this work, I contend that our understanding of their thought would be incomplete without a broader consideration of emotions in their work. For, as Hobbes points out in Leviathan, the simple passions of human beings comprise not only ‘fear,’ but also “appetite, desire, love, aversion, hate, joy and grief” (1994, p. 30). Since these passions drive human motions toward positive or negative attachments, this project seeks to answer the following question: what role do positive attachments play in the political of thought Machiavelli and Hobbes? To address this question, this paper explores their views on three main types of positive attachment – family, class and civil religion.

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The Legacy of Displacement: Refugees and Ethnic Conflict

Do Refugees Exacerbate Ethnic Conflict?

Refugees have become objects of increasing attention in recent years. Most of the scholarly literature on refugees treat population movements as a consequence rather than as a possible cause of conflict (see, e.g., Azam and Hoeffler 2002, Davenport, Moore and Poe 2003, Weiner 1996). Some authors, however, have suggested that international migration in general and refugee flows in particular promote conflict both within and between states (Salehyan and Gleditsch 2006, Teitelbaum 1984, Weiner 1992-93). Recent research also demonstrates that the descendants of victims of deportations are more likely to support right-wing parties (Lupu and Peisakhin 2017), that refugee flows significantly increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks in the host country (Milton, Spencer and Findley 2013), and that nationalist parties successfully mobilize refugees when the former form a distinct immigrant identity (Dragojevic 2014). Taking stock of this literature, I will explore how state institutions may also shape the political outlook of refugees through policies of settlement and rehabilitation.

My empirical research will focus on the formation and transmission of political identities among Partition refugees and their descendants in India. An investigation of the legacy of mass displacement is timely both from a historical viewpoint – India has recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of Partition – as well as from a political standpoint given rising Hindu-Muslim tensions in the country. It will also allow me to answer pressing questions about how to theorize the relationship between displacement and political preferences. Are refugees and their descendants more susceptible to mobilization by right-wing political parties? If so, is it possible to isolate certain factors (i.e., exposure to violence, resettlement, poverty, elite strategies) that promote ethnic parochialism? And what role do state institutions play in the attenuation of ethnic grievances among refugees? To answer these questions, I plan to conduct a multigenerational survey of Partition refugees following the same protocol used by Lupu and Peisakhin (2017). First, I will randomly sample households in refugee colonies across India until I find one respondent that originates from former Muslim-majority provinces and is over 73 years old, meaning they were at least 3 years old at the time of Partition. After interviewing each first-generation respondent, I will follow the family chain down.