Policy Engagements and Blogs

Book Discussion on ‘Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements’ by Amit Ahuja

Rahul Verma

January 7, 2020


Watch the full video (above) of the book discussion on ‘Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements’ by Amit Ahuja featuring the author; D Shyam Babu (Senior Fellow, CPR); Surinder Jhodka (Professor of Sociology, Jawaharlal Nehru University) and moderated by Rahul Verma (Fellow, CPR).

The question and answer session that followed can be accessed here.

About the Book

India’s over 200 million Dalits, once called ‘untouchables’, have been mobilised by social movements and political parties, but the outcomes of this mobilisation are puzzling. Dalits’ ethnic parties have performed poorly in elections in states where movements demanding social equality have been strong while they have succeeded in states where such movements have been entirely absent or weak. In Mobilizing the Marginalized, Amit Ahuja demonstrates that the collective action of marginalised groups — those that are historically stigmatised and disproportionately poor — is distinct. Drawing on extensive original research conducted across four of India’s largest states, he shows, for the marginalised, social mobilisation undermines the bloc voting their ethnic parties’ rely on for electoral triumph and increases multi-ethnic political parties’ competition for marginalised votes. He presents evidence showing that a marginalised group gains more from participating in a social movement and dividing support among parties than from voting as a bloc for an ethnic party.

About the Author

Amit Ahuja is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on the processes of inclusion and exclusion in multiethnic societies. He has studied this within the context of ethnic parties and movements, military organisation, intercaste marriage, and skin colour preferences in South Asia. His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Institute of Indian Studies, the National Bureau of Asian Research and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, the Hellman Family Foundation, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Michigan.