The Scramble for Houses: Violence, a factionalized state, and informal economy in post-partition Delhi

Rotem Geva*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The partition riots that erupted in Delhi following independence in 1947 resulted in the massacre of thousands of Muslims and the departure of roughly 300,000, leaving the remaining Muslim community seriously depleted, both numerically and politically. The article investigates the spatial aspect of Muslim minoritization in the city, namely their ghettoization, resulting from ongoing struggles over Muslim houses. It traces the gradual encroachment on the Muslim-majority neighbourhoods designated â € Muslim zones'. An analysis of this dynamic reveals that, contrary to the prevalent assumption that Muslim zones were outside the jurisdiction of the Custodian of Evacuee Property, a great deal of the Custodian's intervention took place precisely in these areas. This investigation also reveals that, in addition to civic violence and the bureaucratic violence of the Custodian, a host of other factors played a significant role in determining the geography and intensity of encroachment-namely deep political divisions that cut across all levels of governance and policing, as well as socioeconomic class, informal economy, and corruption. This divided political, bureaucratic, and social landscape reflected the profound uncertainties underlying the process of decolonization, and sustained the violence that lingered on long after the partition riots had ended according to official narratives.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)769-824
Number of pages56
JournalModern Asian Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Cambridge University Press.


Dive into the research topics of 'The Scramble for Houses: Violence, a factionalized state, and informal economy in post-partition Delhi'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this