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Journal Article

Linking Urban Vulnerability, Infra-Power and ‘Communal’ Violence: Extralegal Security and Policing in Nagpada, Mumbai

Published on 1 February 2008

Field evidence suggests that those who physically perpetrate communal violence in Mumbai tend to be from the more vulnerable sections of the urban population. This article aims to introduce the concepts of urban vulnerability and infra-power (extralegal authority) into the analysis of communal violence in Mumbai. The paper argues that the relationship between infra-power and urban vulnerability, in a context of inadequate provision of security by the state, is such that it incentivises physical perpetration of violence. More specifically, that physical perpetration of violence might also be seen as an urban survival strategy for the more vulnerable sections of the urban population. The paper concludes by suggesting that inter-communal civic engagement might not always equate to continued communal harmony. Consequently, policies targeting urban vulnerabilities may be a sharper way to reduce the incidence of urban communal violence. The paper is supported by eight months of ethnographic research in a Muslim neighbourhood in South-Central Mumbai.

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Image of Jaideep Gupte

Jaideep Gupte

Research Fellow

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authors
Gupte, J.

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