Peace by committee: state, society, and the control of communal violence in Bhagalpur, Bihar

Aditi Malik*, Monica Prasad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Why do communal provocations generate violence in some moments but not in others? Drawing on 52 interviews and archival and ethnographic evidence from Bhagalpur, Bihar, we develop a theoretical framework to explain how communal conflict might be controlled. In Bhagalpur, we find that a state-society partnership has helped the city to avoid active violence since 1989. Civil society elites gain and maintain local followings by drawing on their access to the state to resolve quotidian problems for their constituents. Doing so cements their status in their communities and imbues them with the credibility to calm communal tensions. These findings illuminate the governance strategies through which state actors might delegate the performance of important state functions, such as maintaining order, to non-state groups. They also reveal a range of tactics through which state-society partnerships might thwart communal conflict in divided societies like India.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-215
Number of pages35
JournalIndia Review
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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