Levesque, Julien, and Soheb Niazi. 2023. “Caste politics, minority representation, and social mobility: the associational life of Muslim caste in India.” Contemporary South Asia, 1–13
Dr. Julien Levesque, an associate researcher of CSH and currently lecturer & post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Indian Studies, Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, University of Zürich with Dr. Soheb Niazi, a visiting scholar at the CSH and currently post-doctoral fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden wrote an article entitled “Caste Politics, Minority Representation, and Social Mobility: The Associational Life of Muslim Caste in India“. The article has been published in a special section of Contemporary South Asia Journal on 27 July 2023. The journal is a collection of essays jointly edited on Muslim caste association in India.
The article is available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09584935.2023.2240258#B01
Abstract: Social stratification among Muslims in South Asia, specifically the phenomenon of Muslim caste, has recently gained scholarly and media attention, particularly in India. However, the public discussion – often empirically shallow and politically polarized – fails to adequately explain the mechanisms through which Muslims perpetuate social inequality while invoking egalitarian principles. This special section, based on a panel held at the 2022 BASAS annual conference, aims to contribute to the scholarly and public discourse by advocating for the study of Muslim caste associations. Taking the associational life of caste into account provides a tangible object of study. Moreover, it shifts the focus away from macro-level discussions towards an empirically grounded analysis at the meso- and micro-levels. This introduction explores two central aspects. First, we suggest that caste associations offer a fresh perspective on the study of Muslim social mobility, beyond the oft-assumed imitation of dominant caste groups or Ashrafization. Second, documenting caste associations helps us understand the diversity of Muslim representation, specifically, the tension between Muslim minority politics and Muslim caste politics. Overall, this special section provides multiple examples of Muslims’ associational engagements with caste, which encompass endeavours as diverse as political assertion, declassing, social exclusion, or universal charitable aspirations.