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Publikation Dr. Rahul Mukherji "How to Stop India´s Authoritarian Slide"

Dr. Rahul Mukherji, Leiter der politikwissenschaftlichen Abteilung der SAI, haben kürzlich einen Artikel in "Journal of Democracy".


Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014, the India´s democracy has flagged. Modi´s government has been squeezing civic space, attacking the press, political opponents, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and stoking ethnic tensions. The state has also used an array of laws to harass critics of the regime. Yet there is still a chance that the power of the vote will lead to a democratic revival. A regime is most vulnerable at an intermediate level of repression: where the state is undermining the rule of law to an extent that is significantly harmful to the political opposition and civil society, but the electoral door to democratic revival has not yet closed completely. This is precisely where India is today. The most promising avenue of democratic resistance is at the subnational level.

Publikation Dr. Rahul Mukherji "India´s Democracy: The Competitive Authoritarian Propensity"

Dr. Rahul Mukherji, Leiter der politikwissenschaftlichen Abteilung der SAI, und Dr. Seyed Hossein Zarhani haben kürzlich einen Artikel in "Pacific Affairs" veröffentlichtet.


This paper explains and corroborates the mechanism by which civic and political spaces opposed to Hindu nationalism were attacked, especially after the arrival of the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in 2014. Three mechanisms are discerned for replacing pluralistic values with Hindu majoritarian ones. Sometimes institutions are just allowed to drift by interpreting old rules in new ways. For example, no formal rules for media control have changed but the government’s control over media has increased substantially. At other times, incremental legal and policy changes are executed to make the change explicit, often building on a new moral purpose. To give another example, the FCRA (2010) was amended and weaponized against NGOs in a layered way in 2020.   Finally, when political opposition is weak, institutions that have provided guarantees for protecting diversity have simply been displaced by new and radically different ones. This was the case with abrogating Article 370, which converted the special status of the sub-national state of Jammu and Kashmir to the status of two federally administered union territories—Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.  These mechanisms place India in a competitive authoritarian frame, where electoral majorities are deployed to systematically attack the political opposition, thereby making it more difficult for it to rise. Despite these propensities, opposition parties have won elections in some of India’s sub-national states. The challenges facing the world´s most populous democracy are significant, even though competitive elements co-exist. These elements in a competitive authoritarian regime, however, are under severe stress. India’s democratic credentials can be revived only if the competitive elements of India’s democracy stand united against ethno-nationalist Hindu majoritarianism.

Publikation Philipp Zehmisch "Moral Challenges at the Intersection of Religion, Politics, and COVID-19 in Pakistan"

Dr. Philipp Zehmisch, wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter der Ethnologie Abteilung, haben kürzlich einen Artikel in CoronAsur: "Asian Religions in the Covidian Age" veröffentlicht.


The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare many of the social fault lines that existed prior to this worldwide public health emergency. Nationalism played a crucial role in how polities dealt with the pandemic. Nationalisms are often inflected with religious ideologies, and religious belonging can be fundamentally linked to popular conceptions of national belonging. In Pakistan, performing public piety based on a generalized notion of "Islam" is foundational to the national imaginary and striving toward Muslim self-determination. This posed particular challenges when the government aimed to curb religious gatherings for the sake of public health in times of the pandemic.

Publikation Philipp Zehmisch "Andaman Loves: Marriage Practices, Secularism, and Alternative Modernities in the Age of Globalization"

Dr. Philipp Zehmisch, wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter der Ethnologie Abteilung, haben kürzlich einen Artikel in FID4SA veröffentlicht.


Love has the potential to transform. Not only individuals, but whole societies. How is that possible? This article discusses the transformative agency of love as a means of solemnizing marriages – as opposed to the concept of an ‘arranged marriage’ – at the hands of an ethnographic example: the contemporary society of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, which may be described as an amalgamation of descendants of colonial convicts and laborers, postcolonial refugees and internal migrants from the Indian subcontinent. In popular discourse, these 500.000 people are represented as a ‘Mini-India’, a nomenclature for the pluralist local society that supposedly replicates the ‘unity in diversity’ of India in ‘miniature form’; since 1858, this diasporic assemblage encompasses various religions and sects, linguistic and ethnic groups, castes and classes of South and Southeast Asia. It is an ‘India beyond India’, where empirically observable values of everyday solidarity, collaboration, conviviality, and friendship lead to cultural creolization, inter-religious and inter-caste marriages, among others between Hindus and Muslims. Indian officials and academics continue to describe these secular dispositions and cosmopolitan practices as evidences of a ‘model society’, which has the potential to transcend and dissolve rigid boundaries of caste, sect or religion, especially through the prominent practice of ‘love marriages’.


This broad social change may be traced back by investigating the ways in which the British colonizers produced families in the Andaman penal colony by solemnizing convict unions. However, apart from a historical genealogy, there is also a ‘modernist twist’ to this narrative: Until a decade ago, the islands were relatively cut off from Indian mainstream culture due to the distance of more than one thousand kilometers by sea from the Indian mainland and the absence of proper mass communication. The introduction of mass media has increased the presence of communicative capitalist ideas and values, a transculturation in which both elements from the Indian subcontinent and the transnational global sphere are appropriated. Moreover, the introduction of several low-cost airlines since the devastating Tsunami on Boxing Day 2004 has speeded up the development of domestic as well as international tourism and extended the islanders’ mobility. These processes have transformed local perceptions from inhabiting a rather remote space to a place within the globalized world. As a result, one can observe societal change rapidly unfolding: transnational ideas of consumption, fashion, and liberalism are appropriated. In this process, many islanders tend to align their local customs and traditions with that of the Indian metro cities, which they view in opposition to ‘backward’ rural areas elsewhere on the subcontinent. Inter-caste and inter-religious marriages, which have been practiced by settlers since several generations, have now become a symbol of an alternative ‘island modernity’.


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