Publication Type:

Conference papers


Raphael Susewind


The Gujarati Community: Globalisation, Mobility and Belonging (Gujarat Studies Association), February 15-16, Dubai (2012)




Lived experience of belonging is riddled with ambivalence and ambiguity, in particular in contexts of identity politics and post-conflict insecurity. Gujaratis might appear as a minority in global contexts, but at home, majority-minority dynamics work quite differently. My paper addresses a particularly prominent "minority-in-minority" and looks at Muslim Gujaratis, namely at those who work for peace, justice and reconciliation after the 2002 riots. Based on fieldwork in 2008, I present an empirical typology of "being Muslim and working for peace", which spans from the better known cases of "faith-based actors" and "secular technocrats" to the lesser known ones of "emancipating women" and "doubting professionals". The latter two in particular trouble straightforward notions of belonging and illustrate the ambivalences and ambiguities of being a Muslim Gujarati and a Gujarati Muslim. Drawing from their experience, I suggest to differentiate “ambivalent groupism” from “ambiguous belonging”; in the former dynamic, being Gujarati and being Muslim are experienced as both very good and very bad, while identification plays out as neither clearly good nor clearly bad in the latter case. Complicating the notion of belonging at home by taking such differences seriously ultimately also enables more sensible discussions of “the” Gujarati community at a global scale.