ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Muslim entrepreneurship cultures of food within urban Ahmedabad, Gujarat


George Jerene - IIT Gandhinagar, Humanities and Social Sciences, Ahmedabad, India


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


 Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat and one of the rapidly urbanising cities in India is showcased as illustrative of the Gujarat model of development which is seen to favour Hindutva politics (Spodek 2002). While spatial segregation and communal polarisation are intrinsic to urbanisation of Ahmedabad, academic scholarship on Ahmedabad (Jeffrelot (2016), Bobbio (2012) et. al.) tends to overlook the complex engagements of Muslims in urban cultural economy by reducing cultures of exclusions engendered by urban transformations to Hindu muslim polarisation and segregation of Muslims. By doing so, multiple and diverse articulations of Muslim agency within urban cultures of the city are ignored. Discourses of the Gujarati cultural ethos is often utilised by the BJP as part of its political ideology through its alignment with a Jain Baniya enterprise spirit- a process that equates development, progress and economic recovery of Gujarat with the distinct cultures of entrepreneurship entrenched within upper caste socio cultural milieu of the State. Utilising the lens of public cultures of food in Ahmedabad, the study investigates the prominent role of Chillia muslims in shaping cultures of vegetarianism in Ahmedabad. The agency of Chillia Muslims is crucial to understand the production, sustenance and reproduction of vegetarianism which is testament to Muslim  engagements with Hindu middle class aspirations and their participation in the city urbanity.