Protests Mass Movements and Politicised Identities A Relook at Social Conflicts in Contemporary India
In recent years India has been witnessing an upsurge of conflicts over myriad issues such as displacement related to development projects, legislative changes, claim over natural resources, environmental issues and the like. Though each conflict situation is unique and demands a detailed research exploration in its own right, the need for evolving a paradigm based on underlying commonalities and basic principles cannot be denied. Such a framework would facilitate not only the researchers, but also the policymakers, and has the potential to create pathways for conflict containment and resolution. Even a cursory perusal of the underlying dynamics of most conflicts at local, national or international levels indicates a contestation over limited resources that eventually transforms into contestations for power and identity. Many such conflicts often appear to undermine national security and are often construed as ‘anti-development’, ‘anti-establishment’ or even ‘anti-state’. The present paper posits that it is important to reveal the subtler processes of negotiation in a conflict situation, to understand conflict as a co-constructed social reality and to highlight the reciprocal impact made by the dynamics of such constructions on identities of the parties involved. Along with examining the role of identity dynamics in perpetuating conflicts, the paper argues for incorporating both identity and instrumental pathways in theorizing conflicts. Emphasising upon the role played by politicisation of identities in conflict situations, the paper proposes a theoretical model for deconstructing conflicts and working towards conflict resolution.
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