Revisiting the minority imagination: An inquiry into the anticaste Pasmanda-muslim discourse in India

Critical Philosophy of Race,


The article explores the emergent tension between the minority imagination and anticaste politics among India’s most significant religious minority, the Muslims. Since the late 1990s, the mobilisation of lowered-caste Muslims in the form of the Pasmanda movement has increasingly challenged the hegemony of the so-called high-caste Ashraf Muslims. The nascent Pasmanda counterdiscourse has contested the critical elements of the entrenched Muslim-minority discourse: identity and the religio-cultural, security and interreligious (communal) violence, and equity and affirmative action. The monolithic image of the Muslim community has been dispelled, and the Muslim-minority discourse has been characterized as a machination for preserving and reproducing the Muslim elite interests. The article maps the Pasmanda discourse and locates it as an instance within the evolving literature on the analytical limitations of the concept of minority to address the justice claims of emergent political subjectivities. The Pasmanda contestations present a sharp anomaly to the existing Muslim-minority discourse and indicate a paradigmatic shift.