Chapter 25: The politics of ethno-religious violence
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This chapter explores the interpenetration of religion and nationalism in contexts of empire and post-colonial states. Comparing the violence associated with Hindu nationalism in India and the violence of the Sinhala Buddhist–Tamil nationalist conflict in Sri Lanka, it seeks to unsettle the binaries of secular/nation-state and religion as well as the contrast between west and non-west. Whilst secular forms of nationalism are generally understood as the solution to religious conflicts, this chapter suggests that religion is often central to the processes of national state formation in the colonies and the metropole. This process is not inevitable: not all religions become nationalised, and the scope and extent of nationalised religions varies. However, and despite these differences, the comparative analysis of Hindu nationalism and the Sinhala Buddhist–Tamil nationalist conflict shows that religiously orientated violence is actually driven by nationalist logics and the nation-state rather than theology.

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