ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

“150 years of Hindu-Muslim residential segregation in India: Trends and Trajectories”


Halder Tamoghna - Azim Premji University, Economics (school of arts and sciences), Bangalore, India


27 РMuslim agency within and against India’s regimes of urban segregation


 Using colonial census records (1871 – 1931), and electoral register (2021), and reports of communal riots from both colonial as well as independent India, I show that ‘Riots, Partition and Resilience’ are indeed the three trajectories of Hindu-Muslim residential segregation in India. This is the first work to provide an evaluation of religious segregation in India over the past 150 years. I establish – resilience of Muslims in certain cities matter for religious segregation, as much as a sustained exposure to communal violence does. In addition, I also show that for cities which received partition refugees, differ significantly in terms of their pre and post partition levels of segregation. Thus, one needs to distinguish between these different underlying trajectories of segregation, even when standard indices reflect similar levels of segregation.

I link these findings with data from two surveys that shed light on attitude of individuals towards practising discrimination. While people’s attitude towards disrimination (or tolerance) do not differ significantly across different cities, by slicing the sample, I show that the attitude of individuals from religious majority, towards the religious minorities, is independent of the trajectory of segregation. Surprisingly, the reverse is not necessarily true.

These observations, threaded together, re-affirm the fact that ‘what causes segregation’ is as important (if not more) than the mere observation that segregation exists.