ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Challenging urban segregation through friendship? The significance of inter-religious intimate ties in two small cities of India


Ribadeau Dumas Hugo - EHESS, Paris, France


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


Does friendship matter? This article looks at the role of inter-religious friendship in reducing the spatial and social segregation of Muslims in two small cities of India. The literature suggests that the deepest bonds of friendship emerge in a context of spatial proximity: as a general rule, those who are physically closer tend to become emotionally dearer. We could therefore speculate that the marginalisation of Muslims observed in several parts of the country could result in the rarefication of inter-religious bonding. In reality, Muslims and Hindus continue to forge ties of friendship. But to what extent? And what is the meaning and depth of these inter-religious connections? Do they hold significance only from an interpersonal perspective, or could they also have broader social repercussions? The study relies on a survey (n=1,063) carried out in Purnea (Bihar) and Margao (Goa), among adult men and women. The sample included three types of neighbourhoods: some with a majority of Muslims, some with a majority of Hindus, and others with an equal proportion of both communities. The data offers a mapping of friendship ties in both cities, including the frequency of inter-religious bonds and their key drivers. Quantitative data was supplemented with in-depth interviews (n=41) to understand the overall understanding of friendship within the population. Ethnographic observations were also used to analyse the everyday performativity of friendship.