When State Responses Fail: Religious Fundamentalism and Domestic Territorial Challenges in India 1952-2002
46 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 15 Sep 2010
Date Written: 2010
Why are some challenges to the territorial unity of democratic states more tractable than others? Two main explanations have been advanced in the literature addressing the causes of secessionism. One focuses on the institutional reforms and government policies adopted in response to sub-national mobilization. Another focuses on the characteristics, in particular the ethnic identity, of the potentially secessionist sub-national groups. This paper analyzes the trajectory of 180 political organizations that demanded autonomy or secession in India between 1952 and 2002. The main finding of the analysis is that territorial demands put forward by organizations abiding by a religious fundamentalist worldview proved much more resilient over time than identical demands advanced by non-religious organizations. Leveraging both sub-national and cross-time variation within the important country case of India, the analysis emphasizes the importance for the dynamics of domestic territorial conflict of variables that generally receive less attention in broader comparative analyses, such as the type of ethnic and religious identity mobilized and the effect of political organization.
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