Dr Aftab Alam from the Department of Political Science, Zakir Hussein Degree College, University of Delhi, will present his paper on the issues of caste, religious identity and democracy in South Asia. The paper maps the changing contours of caste relations among Muslims in South Asia. It attempts to provide an ethnographic profile of Dalit Muslim castes/communities, examining the problems of inequality, humiliation and discrimination faced by lower caste Muslims in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

It studies the various forms of discrimination, stigma, social distance, structures of domination and untouchability faced by Dalit Muslims in order to understand their awareness of their own identity and their relationship with the changing social structure. The paper also studies their customs, rituals, beliefs and other cultural practices. It aims to provide a theoretical framework for justifying the politics of recognition and critically engages with the question: Why did the State not recognise Dalit Muslims?.

Chair and Organiser: Professor Dibyesh Anand, Head of Politics and International Relations (follow the department on Twitter @DPIRWestminster and on Facebook).

Book your place

This event is open to all students and staff at the University of Westminster, as well as members of the public. Email [email protected] to book a place.

About the speaker

Dr Aftab Alam teaches political science at University of Delhi. He completed his Masters, MPhil, PhD in Political Science at the  Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. His areas of interest include: Indian politics, marginality, caste, modernity, south Asia and democracy. He has published widely, including for Oxford University Press and has participated in national as well as international conferences. Aftab is a member of various government committees, research institutes and civil society organisations.


This event is based on the Centre for the Study of Democracy's research theme Post-colonial politics, development and emerging powers. In addition to other issues, this investigates how religion, history, territoriality, political economy, militarisation, democratisation and resistance have contributed to a volatile politics that disconnects states and people. The explicit focus is on engagement with communities and impacting upon public debates around these contentious subjects. The struggle for democracy in India is one such subject.