The Channel, Season 1, EP. 32 - discussion, conversation

Muslim Caste Associations in India with Soheb Niazi and Julien Levesque

In this episode, Soheb Niazi and Julien Levesque discuss Muslim caste organizations in India. Soheb Niazi is an historian who specializes in the social and economic history of modern India. He is particularly interested in studying the history of non-elite (non-ashrāf) Muslim actors in South Asia to understand the formation of caste and class relations among them. Soheb is currently a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS). During his stay here in Leiden, he is working on his book manuscript, tentatively titled “Contesting Genealogies: Hierarch and Social Mobility among Muslim Occupational Classes in Colonial North India (1870-1940).” Julien Levesque is a political sociologist whose work focuses on socio-political dynamics in South Asian Muslim societies. His first monograph, published in French in 2022 by the Presses universitaires de Rennes, looks into nationalism and identity construction in Pakistan with a focus on the southern Sindh province. Julien currently serves as a Lecturer & Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. His ongoing work examines caste-based political mobilization among Muslims in India. In today’s conversation, Julien and Soheb talk about their recent collaboration as guest editors of a special section in the journal Contemporary South Asia, entitled “Caste Politics, Minority Representation, and Social Mobility: The Associational Life of Muslim Caste in India.” As guest editors, the two curated the collection and also co-authored its substantial introduction. In the following conversation, we discuss the topic of Muslim caste associations generally, and how these organizations reflect and contest political dynamics within the Muslim community, but also beyond into the broader Indian polity.