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Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror

The recurrent episodes of Hindu-Muslim conflict in India ðgoing back to the partition and earlierÞ form the motivation for this paper. Even if we exclude the enormity of human losses from religious violence during the partition, such conflict has continued through the second half of the twentieth century, accounting for over 7,000 deaths over 1950–2000. There is reason to believe that the situation may not have changed much since: witness, for instance, the rampant Hindu-Muslim violence unleashed in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002. It may be argued that these numbers are small relative to the overall population of India. From a pure arithmetical perspective they are, but they do not capture the less measurable consequences of conflict: displacement, insecurity, segregation, loss of livelihood, widespread fear, and the sapping of the morale of an entire society. Like the many episodes of ethnic violence that have occurred all around the world, it is prima facie reasonable that there is an economic component to Hindu-Muslim conflict. There is, of course, no getting away from the facts of sheer hatred and mistrust, or what one might call the “primordialist explanations” for ethnic violence. Nor does one necessarily need to get away from primordialism, provided that we entertain the possibility that the economic progress of one’s enemies may heighten the resentment and spite that one feels. But equally, there could be the systematic use of violence for economic gain, for the control—via appropriation or systematic exclusion—of property, occupations, business activity, and resources ðsee, e.g., Andre´ and Platteau ½1998, Collier and Hoeffler ½1998, 2004, Das ½2000, Field et al. ½2008, Do and Iyer ½2010, Dube and Vargas ½2013, and the recent survey by Blattman and Miguel ½2010Þ. This economic perspective is no contradiction to the use of noneconomic markers ðsuch as religionÞ in conflict.1