History, Emotions and Hetero-Referential Representations in Inter-Group Conflict: The Example of Hindu-Muslim Relations in India

  • Ragini Sen Logistics, Mumbai
  • Wolfgang Wagner Johannes Kepler Universität


Drawing on interviews with Hindu and Muslim respondents on the symbols involved in Hindu-revivalism in India, the paper exemplifies how the politics of Hindutva impacts on the thinking of common man. Hindutva ideology is based on historical events that are given particular interpretations in the interest of power politics. It is shown how the popular representations of history are being reframed and interrelated to convey justification and to endow them with the emotional force for mass-action to serve as tools in populist ideologues’ claims. The findings are analysed and discussed in terms of social representation theory. It is argued that representations of historical events form a narrative network that fuels cognition, emotions, and actions of followers. The frameworks existing in each of the two groups is shown to be highly interdependent in their mutual reference to the Other

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