Politics of Citizenship: Experiencing State-Society Relations from the Margins

Chopra, D., Williams, P. and Vira, B.
Contemporary South Asia 19.3
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This introduction discusses the articles in this Special Issue, which are all focused on exploring the everyday interactions between marginalised individuals and groups and the state in contemporary India. In particular the articles highlight the experiences of a diverse set of marginalised groups – Muslim artisans and weavers, Dalits, Tibetan exiles and post-conflict victims in Gujarat – in order to work towards an understanding of the politics of citizenship from the margins. Across these articles two interlocking themes emerge.

Firstly, how different marginalised groups have experienced, critiqued and engaged with different aspects of the 'welfare state'. Secondly, the way in which agencies were articulated from the margins through these processes of engagement, shaping and recasting interactions between the state and society in India. We argue that the deployment of different strategies of engagement with the state by India's marginalised can be viewed as a politics of citizenship, through which marginalised people (re)make themselves as citizens. This essay is thus a call for future research on citizenship as a lived experience which is operationalised in local practices and quotidian interactions between the state and society.

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Deepta Chopra

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