Lethal Religions: Hindu Nationalism and Communal Violence in India

Led by Turid Beitland

Jan 2004 – May 2005

MA thesis in political science, Department of Sociology and Political Science, NTNU

‘Communal violence’ is often used to describe violent conflict between religious communities. This thesis takes a closer look at one such case, the February 2002 bloodshed in Gujarat, and asks how people can suddenly engage in such brutality with such apparent fervour. The proposed interpretation is rational ‘scapegoating’ on the part of high-caste Hindu nationalists, who use religious myths and symbols to ignite hatred among relatively deprived lower castes. Perpetuation of religious conflict as the main cleavage serves to suppress simmering class/caste conflict which, if unleashed, could deprive the upper castes of privileges. Adviser: Ola Listhaug, NTNU.

The thesis was completed in the spring of 2005.

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