M. SUDHIR SELVARAJ

I am a PhD candidate at the King's India Institute, King's College London, exploring direct and structural violence against India's religious minorities, particularly Christians. I also explore these themes in my creative work as a playwright. 
 

Circular Library

ABOUT ME

I am currently a PhD candidate (in Political Science) and Majumdar Scholar at the King's India Institute, King's College London, where my research focuses on direct and structural violence against religious minorities in India. I particularly look at Christians in the state of Karnataka. I also serve as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of International Development at King's.

Outside of my academic responsibilities, I serve as the vice warden of one of the University of London's Intercollegiate Halls. In this role, together with the warden, I am responsible for welfare support and disciplinary issues for 1200 UK and international residents.

Previously, I worked as a Teaching and Program Associate at Visthar Academy of Justice and Peace Studies, Bangalore, and a Research and Program Fellow (South Asia) at the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.

I have written and produced three plays focusing on conflicts in South Asia, based on original research. These include plays about the 1984 Bhopal Gas Disaster and the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal. These have been performed in India, the U.S. and the U.K.

I hold a B.A. degree from Concordia College, Minnesota, where I double-majored in Political Science and Global Studies and minored in Business. I then completed my M.A. degree in International Relations from the Department of War Studies at King's College London.

 
Researching and Writing

RESEARCH

Rethinking Violence: Hindutva Christianity and Freedom of Religion in India (2016- Present)

For my doctoral research project, I adopt Norwegian political scientist Johan Galtung's framework. Developed over a series of articles, he advocates for a broad conception of violence which includes direct, structural and cultural violence (which are the justifications provided to legitimize the direct and structural violence). He also suggests a causal flow of violence from its cultural forms to its structural forms and finally to its direct forms.

I argue that both physical and structural violence violates an Indian Christian's practice of religion as enshrined in Article 25 of the constitution which provides for the 'Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion'. I also argue that both structural and physical violence are rooted in and justified using the Hindutva ideology which portrays Christians as "foreigners" intent on destroying the integrity of the Hindu nation through religious conversions. Mainly, conversions are portrayed as a threat to the "Hindu State" in two ways. The first is its role in targeting "vulnerable" Hindu populations, particularly Dalits and Tribals. Secondly, conversions are presented as a tool of "foreigners" to influence India's politics. This broader conception of violence facilitates a challenge to existing notions that violence against Christians in the country began its proliferation in the late 1990s.

To study direct violence, I have built a unique database of instances from 1975 to 2010 based on reportage in the Times of India. I further use the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Orissa and Karnataka as case studies to explore the causes of violence against Christians. Recognizing the large intersection between Christian and caste identities, I consider the denial of reservations to Dalit Christians, and the institution of anti-conversion legislation in several states in the country as examples of structural violence. To study both, I consider national, and state government reports, NGO reports and interviews with human rights activists, journalists, and church leaders.

 
Two Pens on Notebook

PUBLICATIONS

SELECTED ONLINE PUBLICATIONS

JOURNAL ARTICLES

  • 'The Online Public in India: An Analysis of the BJPs Online Election Campaign', Journal of Media and Social Development, October 2014

EDITED BOOKS

PODCASTS

 
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STORYTELLING

 
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WE ALL LIVE IN BHOPAL (2013)

A Theatrical Production

Based on original data including first-hand accounts of victims and activists, this 40-minute play was written for the purpose of raising awareness for the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Disaster. This play has been performed 20 times in India, the US and the UK.

HOMELAND (2018)

A Theatrical Production

This script which explores the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal was written based on interviews with survivors of the violence. It has been performed in colleges in India.

HOMELAND (2020)

An Audio Production

This audio production is based on the 2018 script and was rewritten to explore a format which was more conducive to the global situation caused by Covid-19

MEDIA COVERAGE

The Scene is SetThe Hindu, April 8, 2016.

Lens on Reality, The Hindu, February 7, 2016

Talking about Bhopal and Beyond, Bangalore Mirror, November 15, 2014