ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Deconstructing citizenship in the classroom: a case-study of Muslims in Delhi


Bhatty Kiran - EHESS, Politiques, Paris, France


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


 I would like to present my recent work on education of Muslims in Delhi in the context of their citizenship claims in the school space. It is based on ethnographic research of 50 Muslim families in 2 districts of Delhi – North-East Delhi (a minority concentration district), and South-East Delhi; interviews with school teachers across management types; and focus-group discussion with students. In my study I show the different ways in which Muslim families have responded a) to the spectre of Islamophobia in schools, by adopting strategies that are differentiated across socio-economic class and location; and b) to the educational opportunities available to them, exhibiting on the one hand autonomy in school choice, and on the other, ghettoizing as a ‘trajectory of marginalization.’ It unpacks the issue of subjectification of Muslims, through the trope of Islamophobia and demonstrates how such subjectification represents a distinct form of citizenship denial for Muslim. It further examines the urban space as providing the scope for both segregation and assimilation, in which the policies and practices of the state (and Centre) can either fuel the former or the latter. In doing so it highlights the fact that a) the Muslim community does not represent a monolith, exhibiting variation across class and location; b) that citizenship extends beyond civil and political rights to the creation of bonds of fellow feeling and belonging with other citizens.