Publication Type:

Conference papers


Raphael Susewind


Diversity, equality, citizenship and Indian Muslims, September 18-19, Singapore (2015)


Data, Lucknow


With regret, chapter seven of the Sachar Committee Report refrains from an analysis of Muslims' standing in urban rental and real estate markets, citing severe lack of data and related methodologial challenges. Nonetheless, a number of scholars have argued that discrimination against Muslims in access to housing is widespread, that this discrimination is fuelled by histories of communal violence, and that the resulting antagonism against Muslim tenants and homebuyers leads to their permanent "ghettoisation". This perspective has its merits and is supported by sound ethnographic evidence in many places. But it also tends to overstate the impact of individuals' prejudice, pays insufficient attention to the role of the state in structuring the political economy, and hence cannot properly account for spatial variation. Based on ethnographic work in Lucknow and new disaggregated quantitative data from across Uttar Pradesh, I thus complicate the prevalent narrative of Muslim "ghettoisation", focusing on those pull factors that draw Muslims to certain areas alongside the push factors that keep them out of others. In particular, I highlight the productive practices of networking and collusion that enable a veritable building boom in "traditional" Muslim neighbourhoods. From this perspective, Muslims' continued segregation in urban India does not necessarily indicate blanket disenfranchisement, but rather points to their differential incorporation in both the political economy of corruption and the moral aspirations of middle-class India. Consequently, I confirm widespread residential segregation -- but argue that the reasons are more complex. My paper concludes with policy implications of these findings.