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By Sufiya Pathan

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Extra info for A Historical and Theoretical Investigation into 'Communalism'

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Prejudices seem to flourish in all human societies and find several planes along which to define themselves. ). Yet all of these prejudices are not termed ‘communalism’. Thus, ‘communalism’ must be something more than simple prejudice. That leads us to the idea that ‘communalism’ is an ‘ideology’ which is rather unique to India. This ideology propounds the religious community as not simply the fundamental social group to which every individual belongs, but also 25 mobilizes religious community as the fundamental political group.

Thus, to rehearse the problems I have outlined so far: a) ‘Communalism’ seems to suffer from contradictory characteristics. These are not simply contradictions between different theoretical standpoints36 but also contradictions within one theoretical strand of thought37. 34 Sarvepalli Gopal in his ‘Introduction’ to Anatomy of a Confrontation (1991). Most likely first expressed by Kenneth W. Jones (1968) in his article ‘Communalism in the Punjab: The Arya Samaj Contribution’ when he first proposed that ‘communalism’ was a particular kind of identity which was peculiar to the “South Asian experience”.

This report sets a trend that seems to take over all nationalist accounts of ‘communalism’. Almost every single subsequent work was compelled to look at ‘communalism’ in historical perspective. Their central dilemma seems to have been that in a land where Hindu-Muslim synthesis finds as much evidence as Hindu-Muslim strife, what is the ‘true’ nature of this relationship? Constantly, evidence of conflict would be balanced by evidence of syncretism; evidence for invasion would be balanced with evidence of political partnership; evidence for ‘intolerant’ Muslim monarchs (usually Aurangzeb) would be balanced by evidence of ‘tolerant’ and ‘enlightened’ ones (usually Akbar).

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