Publication Type:

Conference papers


Raphael Susewind


Urban South Asia, October 2, Oxford (2014)


Data, Lucknow


Residential segregation of religious communities in Indian cities is frequently studied in the context of communal conflict, a perspective most recently advanced in an edited volume by Christophe Jaffrelot and Laurent Gayer on "Muslims in Indian cities". My own research in contrast looks at segregation pattern in their own right in order to identify a range of driving factors and consequences – only one of which might be (fear of) communal violence. The proposed paper presents a first case study from this wider project and explores residential pattern in Lucknow. As is the case in many North Indian cities, 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, Muslim poverty, discrimination on the real estate market, and security concerns in times of communal tension. Based on 17 months of fieldwork and statistical analyses of a unique dataset on the real estate market, 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 of 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 there. Together with historical path dependency, this explains the distinctly Muslim building boom in old Lucknow, and the overall residential pattern of the city.