Confronting Saffron Demography
Drawing on over 20 years of field-level research in rural Uttar Pradesh, these essays challenge Hindutva myths about Muslims in India. Communalist discourses often portray Muslims as ‘backward’ because of purdah, polygamy, illiteracy, high fertility and low women’s status. The authors highlight the falsity and perniciousness of such negative stereotypes. Pointing to the danger of reifying and rigidifying these contrasts between Hindus and Muslims, they draw out parallels and similarities between them, for example in domestic and gender politics, to argue that Muslim women are not especially oppressed. Moreover, those differences that remain are compounded and exaggerated by Muslims’ minority position in India and their marginalisation, for example in relation to health services and to education. These revised and up-dated essays address these general issues through the examples of fertility, women’s status, and the obstacles to movements that might redress these problems.