Journal Article

What’s Civil About Intergroup Violence? Five Inadequacies of Communal and Ethnic Constructs of Urban Riots

Published on 1 June 2012

For the first time in close to 100 years, India reports higher population growth in its urbanised areas than across its vast rural landscape. However, a confluence of vast urbanisation and scarcity of resources has implied heightened levels of localised violence, centred in and around already impoverished neighbourhoods.

In this paper, I present five arguments that demonstrate the inaccuracies in classifying violence as ‘communal’ or ‘ethnic’, and highlight the implications this has on how state and society respond to persistent intergroup violence. The arguments are based on my reflections while conducting in-depth interviews with victims, perpetrators and witnesses of other incidents of rioting in India, as well as a review of relevant studies of intergroup violence from across the world.


Jaideep Gupte

Research Fellow

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published by
Gupte, J.


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