Identity Workshop: Amit Ahuja

Event Date: 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 12:30pm to 2:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Zoom ID: 842 4656 4996

Event Contact: 

Professor Jan Nederveen Pieterse, Global Studies Colloquium
Professor Cynthia Kaplan, Identity Poltiics Worrkshop

Professor Amit Ahuja, Dept. of Political Science, will present, “Mobilizing the marginalized: Ethnic parties without ethnic movements,”  sponsored by the Department of Global Studies as part the Global Studies Colloquium Series; co-sponsored by the Identity Politicsl Workshop.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 
12:30 - 2:00pm

Zoom link is
Meeting ID: 842 4656 4996

Abstract: In India, a young democratic system has undermined the legitimacy of a two-thousand-year-old social system that excluded and humiliated an entire people by treating them as untouchables. This incomplete, but irreversible change in Indian society and politics has been authored by the mobilization of some of the most marginalized citizens in the world and counts as one of the most significant achievements of Indian democracy. Dalits, the former untouchables in India, who number over 200 million, have been mobilized by social movements and political parties, but their mobilization is puzzling. Dalits’ parties perform poorly in elections in states historically home to movements demanding social equality while they do well in other states where such movements have been weak or entirely absent. For Dalits, collective action in the social sphere appears to undermine rather than bolster collective action in the electoral sphere. In this presentation, Amit Ahuja will show how social movements by marginalized ethnic groups – those who are stigmatized by others and disproportionately poor – undermine bloc voting to generate competition for marginalized citizens’ votes across political parties. He will also show how a marginalized group gains more from participating in a social movement and dividing support among parties than from voting en bloc for an ethnic party.

Amit Ahuja is Associate Professor in Political Science at UC-Santa Barbara and the author of Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements published by Oxford University Press. His research focuses on the processes of inclusion and exclusion in multiethnic societies. He studies this within the context of ethnic parties and movements, military organization, intercaste marriage, and skin color preferences in South Asia.