Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Civil society in conflict cities: the case of Ahmedabad

By Neera Chandhoke


This paper raises important questions about the role of civil society in the context of violence and conflict. Drawing on field work conducted in the city of Ahmedabad, India, the author explores a specific case of serious failure on the part of civil society, state officials and organisations to effectively respond and protest the perpetration of violence and human rights abuses between Muslim and Hindu factions in the city. The author concludes that we can not assume that all civil society organisations will be democratic, and that unless people come together across religious, caste and other ethnic divides, civil society will be unable to monitor and respond to transgressions by various actors. This research suggests that shared experiences and identities, a state monopoly over violence, and a visible effort to neutralise political projects along ethnic lines are necessary preconditions for an effective civil society. Policy makers should closely monitor situations where ethnic identities become a formative aspect of a state making project as this will likely lead to violence. Further, it must be recognized that civil society is an essential pre-condition for democracy and is significant in building sociability and solidarity, requisites themselves for a stable and functioning state and society

Topics: HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology, JQ Political institutions Asia
Publisher: Crisis States Research Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

Suggested articles


  1. (1983). A Righteous Struggle.
  2. (1969). Ahmedabad A Study in Indian Urban History. Canberra: Australian National doi
  3. (1973). An Anatomy of Peaceful Industrial Relations.
  4. (2001). Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India. Delhi: Permanent Black. doi
  5. (2001). Colonialism, Indigenous Elites and the Transformation of Cities in the Non-Western World: Ahmedabad doi
  6. (1970). Communal riots in Gujarat: reports of a preliminary investigation’,
  7. (2002). Communal Space over Life Space: Saga of Increasing Vulnerability
  8. (2002). Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India. New Delhi: doi
  9. (1941). File No 5/11/1941, and Report of the District Magistrate, Ahmedabad, on the Hindu-Muslim Disturbances
  10. (2002). for Democratic Rights (PUDR).
  11. (1989). From Gandhi to Violence: Ahmedabad’s doi
  12. (1932). General Report’,
  13. (2002). Gujarat Carnage 2002: A Report to the Nation by the Independent Fact Finding Mission, document for circulation.
  14. (2006). Histories for the Subordinated. New Delhi: Permanent Black Holmstorm,
  15. (2008). Reconciliation in Post-Godhra Gujarat.
  16. (2007). Sabarmati: Creating a New Divide’,
  17. (2009). Some Reflections on the Notion of an ‘Inclusive Political Pact’: A Perspective from Ahmedabad”, Crisis States Research Centre, Working Paper (forthcoming).
  18. (2005). State Collapse and Reconstruction: phase 2 of the Crisis States Programme’
  19. (2002). State Participation and Complicity
  20. (1990). The Construction of Communalism in Colonial North India. Delhi: doi
  21. (2004). The Making and the Unmaking of an Industrial Working Class. New Delhi: doi
  22. (2005). The Rise of Hindu Nationalism doi
  23. (2005). The Shaping of Modern Gujarat: Plurality, Hindutva and Beyond.
  24. (1974). Traditional Neighbourhood in a Modern City.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.