Publication Type: Journal article / chapter
Countries: India
Authors: Richard Axelby
Funders: AHRC GCRF

Richard Axelby’s journal article, The Teacher, the Activist, and the Maulvi: Emancipatory visions and insurgent citizenship among Gujjars in Himachal Pradesh, in Modern Asian Studies, 54(3):868-897  explores the intersection of state, religion, and ethnicity. Axelby considers the opportunities for individual and collective advancement available to Muslim Gujjars in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh, India. Following the lives of three prominent members of the community—a teacher, a political activist, and a maulvi—it considers their respective orientations to the state and their relationships with their fellow Gujjars, to illustrate the different ways in which Gujjars have sought to transcend their marginal and subordinated position as an ethnic and religious minority. With state-promoted schemes of affirmative action and reservation offering only limited opportunities for social and economic advancement, we see how Gujjars have responded to their continued marginalization, first through political mobilization as an ethnic group and, more recently, through the establishment of Islamic educational institutions and association with Tablighi Jama’at. This leads to an evaluation of the emancipatory potentials and contradictions of insurgent citizenship when mobilized around specific aspects of ethnic and religious identity. Against a backdrop of economic liberalization and accompanying shifts in civil society, he shows how the distribution of rewards that derive from strategies of assimilation, engagement, and withdrawal are structured in particular ways, including by class and gender.