Publication Type:

Conference papers


Raphael Susewind


Religion as resource: Local and global discourses, July 18-20, Tübingen (2014)


Data, Lucknow


Lucknow’s Muslims are concentrated in the old city and only inhabit specific pockets of new Lucknow. Four explanations are usually given: self-chosen segregation, Mus- lim poverty, discrimination on the real estate market, and security concerns. Based on 17 months of fieldwork and statistical analyses of a unique dataset on real estate and residential pattern, I explore the plausibility of all four explanations. Alleged Muslim poverty can be ruled out first – unlike elsewhere, Muslims in Lucknow are not poorer than non-Muslims. Similarly, I found no conclusive statistical evidence for market discrimination on the basis popular prejudice. The political economy of bureaucratic collusion however suggests that Muslim developers have relatively better networks in the old city, which translates into significantly higher margins. These better networks in turn reflect the clever use of religion as a resource, in two interrelated ways: through the collusion over waqf administration – and through sponsorship of emerging forms of neo-revivalism. In the neighbourhood where I mostly worked, for instance, an emerging group of Shia real estate developers funds a specifically Muslim take on “middle class moralities”, as Minna Saavala called the reduction of an ethics of social justice to a checklist morality of individual propriety. This in turn provoked a violent backlash by lower class Sunnis – a dynamic that lies at the core of my dissertation, and the proposed paper.