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Coping With Ethnicity In South Asia: Bangladesh, Punjab And Kashmir Compared

Title:Coping With Ethnicity In South Asia: Bangladesh, Punjab And Kashmir Compared
Author:T. N. Madan
Publication:Ethnic And Racial Studies / Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group
Enumeration:Vol. 21, No. 5, pp.: 969 - 989/ Sept. 1, 1998
Abstract:In the anthropological and sociological studies of India the terms ‘tribe’ and ‘caste’, have been in use for almost two hundred years. The related notions of ‘tribalism’ and ‘casteism’ were brought in to replace a static (structural) by a dynamic (organizational, processual) approach. Since the 1970s, ‘ethnic group’ and ‘ethnicity’ have gained currency. After defining the terms, three cases of ethnicity are examined, namely East Bengali Muslim, Punjabi Sikh and Kashmiri Muslim. It is argued that, while the first is a success story, the second seems more like a retreat at present, and the third is at best nascent. The reasons for this difference are explored. Ethnicity, it is argued, is not only characterization of identity, but also a set of strategies to establish a new state. This objective is opposed by competing ethnic groups and the existing state. Ethnic movements therefore involve violence and their outcome is dependent upon a variety of factors and therefore contingent.

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