Over recent weeks, I was repeatedly challenged to think through the practical contexts of my research, and how I engage with them. I have been invited to an evaluation of Muslim Indians' socio-economic standing and citizenship rights a decade after the Sachar report. I continue to collaborate with activists, journalists and other academics through Data{Meet}. And I have been applying for faculty jobs, many of which now ask for a statement on "policy relevance" or "impact" (especially in the UK, for obvious reasons). Frankly, these are not exactly the terms in which I usually frame my work - so I decided to write up my discomfort with them, in an attempt to clarify my own stance. Comments welcome...

Once I began to think about it more explicitly, I realized that my discomfort surely does not stem from lack of familiarity. My first work experience was with the local grassroots NGO CARAVAN in Pakistan. There, I was very much on the receiving end of advice, and the experience primarily left quite an impact on me. Next came an internship with Germany's largest donor organization, Misereor, for whom I drafted the policy on religion in conflict. This was very much a collaborative endeavour, though it ultimately led nowhere (it wasn't such a smart idea to let an intern tackle an issue so close to the institution's self-understanding, I guess). Last but not least, I worked for the German embassy in Bangladesh just before the country returned to free elections after two years of technocratic rule. In this position, I was asked to liberally disseminate "advice" to all kinds of stakeholders (close to the point of unduly intervening in domestic affairs).

This is a preprint of a review whose final and definite form has been published in Commonwealth & Comparative Politics © Taylor & Francis; see publisher's version and entry in my publication list. The book itself is here

India’s Muslim spring: why is nobody talking about it?, by Hasan Suroor, New Delhi, Rupa, 2014, xv + 200 pp., £13.99 (hardback), ISBN 9788129130983

Since the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992, increasing Hindu-Muslim polarisation and subsequent Muslim marginalisation seemed inevitable in India - until the UPA government elected in 2004 made the fate of the country’s largest religious minority a political priority again. The presentation of the Sachar Committee Report on Muslims’ social, economic and educational status to India’s parliament in late 2006 engendered a powerful re-imagination of Muslim Indians as citizens who are primarily poor and only secondarily a religious minority (the usual dialectic reifications and homogenisations notwithstanding). With its almost Foucauldian politics of enumeration, the report countered pervasive doubts and suspicions about an allegedly unruly and alien segment of India’s population with a solid statistical grasp of ‘hard’ economic facts. While the report was widely acclaimed for opening up new avenues of academic inquiry and political intervention, India’s Muslim spring by Hasan Suroor now demonstrates that this ‘rationalisation’ indeed succeeded in redefining elite perception as well.

After four years of work and many unexpected twists and turns, I finally defended my dissertation on Muslim politics in North India last week and subsequently received the title of Dr. phil. (graded very good / magna cum laude). The dissertation consists of five refereed articles, a reprint, two published datasets and an overview essay that links them all together (the latter is published here):

This week, Economic & Political Weekly publishes the first thorough empirical application of my namematching algorithm: an exploration of the spatial variation of the "Muslim vote" in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 general elections, which I have written with Raheel Dhattiwala (from the University of South Australia, and formerly Oxford), following up on Raheel's considerable research on Gujarat and my own earlier work on elections in UP. A postprint of our article is archived HERE, with the original version on the journal website:

Raphael Susewind, & Raheel Dhattiwala (2014). Spatial Variation in the 'Muslim Vote' in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, 2014 Economic & Political Weekly, 49 (39), 99-110

This is a preprint of a review whose final and definite form has been published in Contemporary South Asia © Taylor & Francis; see publisher's version and entry in my publication list. The book itself is here

Islamic reform in South Asia, edited by Filippo Osella and Caroline Osella, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013, xxviii + 509 pp., ISBN 978-11-0703-175-3