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Manufacturing Polarisation in Contemporary India: The Case of Identity Politics in Post-Left Bengal


Journal abstract

This article explores ethnographically the manufacturing of religious polarisation and violence in West Bengal, India. Since 2014, India has experienced a rise in religion-based identity conflict. Although West Bengal experienced riots during the partition of India, it remained unaffected during the subsequent three decades of Left rule. More recently, however, secular democratic forces have been marginalised and riot-like conflicts have emerged. We argue that identity consolidation in West Bengal is part of an increasing trend of religious polarisation in the country. To bridge the gap between scholarly discussions on the concepts of secularism and communalisation, the paper presents micro-narratives illuminating the background of religious polarisation and violence. We provide ethnographic details of the mechanisms by which religious identities are consolidated. With a case-based approach, this article unearths the mechanisms of identity-based polarisation, and its politicisation in a region which has not experienced this level of violence for several decades.

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