Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Transcending the communal paradigm : interfaith relations across multiple dimensions in Hyderabad

Mangiarotti, Emanuela (2012) Transcending the communal paradigm : interfaith relations across multiple dimensions in Hyderabad. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94504) (KAR id:94504)


The social space of interfaith relations in India is commonly represented in the academia, the media and the everyday discourse through the paradigm of communalism. This thesis considers it an analytical and socio-political discursive space, grounded on reified religious communities and their mutual relations. Thus, similar to ethnicity and ethnic conflict, communalism tends to reproduce the discourse of Hindu vs. Muslim as a given of social relations, configuring the very conflict narrative it attempts to explain.

This study proposes a shift in perspective, trying to situate the paradigm of communalism in the social space and processes in which it is articulated and that it contributes to reproduce. By relying on existing critical literature on Indian nationalism, secularism, caste and communalism and on feminist perspectives on power, conflict and identity this thesis focuses on the interconnectedness of gender and socio-economic dimensions in narratives of interfaith relations. It elaborates an argument of communalism as a discourse of domination and social polarisation, reproducing social boundaries of a majoritarian, patriarchal and socioeconomically asymmetric order and veiling social tensions over the positioning of different sections of society and relations of super/subordination among them. The conflict narrative of communalism is located within the discursive landscape of Indian colonial and post-colonial society, structuring and naturalising forms of domination and social polarisation across gender and socio-economic dimensions.

By exploring the urban space of Hyderabad (Deccan), this research de constructs the conflict narrative of communalism in its different themes and articulations, conceiving of gender and socio-economic differentials as organising principles for social relations, participating in the configuration of social boundaries but also of the possibilities for transcending them. In fact, while providing a perspective on the naturalisation of relations of super/subordination through the narrative of Hindu-Muslim conflict/harmony, this study P9ints at possibilities to imagine alternatives to the dominant paradigm. Multiple tensions over forms of domination and social polarisation find expression in the discourses and practices of interfaith relations, questioning the relative positionings assigned to different sections of society within and between religious communities' boundaries. In that sense, they expose and challenge the dominant language, meaning and practice of social relations.

This study aims at reflecting on conflicts as socio-political and analytical paradigms reproducing discourses of and about power. It then proposes to look within and beyond dominant conflict narratives, at the social tensions articulating possibilities for a change in the discourse and practice of social relations and their representation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94504
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: J Political Science
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2023 14:35 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2023 15:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.