Religion, poverty and conflict in a garbage slum of Ahmedabad

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Miklian, Jason & Ida Roland Birkvad (2016) Religion, poverty and conflict in a garbage slum of Ahmedabad, International Area Studies Review 19(1): 60–75.

​​​​Ahmedabad​​​ is often called an Indian ‘success story’ in terms of economic urbanization, butit is also a city highly segregated along religious and caste lines, and a flashpoint in the 2002Hindu–Muslim riots that left thousands dead. Most of the Muslim communities relocated afterthe violence work in a vast informal sector around the city’s landfills and waste managementperipheries that are disregarded by local government and endemic with corruption. While manyscholars see this as a recipe for violent conflict, we explore the garbage slum community inChandola to show that a leveling of social stratification and reduction of segregation amongstHindu and Muslim communities in this slum results in a more congruous inter-group relationshipthan current literatures on the relationship between poverty, religion and violence might predict.However, their unity has come at the expense of jointly ‘othering’ an even more vulnerable groupof newcomers – a Bangladeshi migrant community that is persecuted both by the state as well asby fellow residents. We show that while violence markers are constituted in new ways, challengingsome assumptions of how inter-group violence is triggered, the fundamental societal weaknessesthat facilitate such tensions remain prevalent despite changing conflict actor allegiances.​

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