Local Politics in the Suru Valley of Northern India

Grist, Nicola. 1998. Local Politics in the Suru Valley of Northern India. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis addresses the politics of the yokma-pa, a Shi'ite faction in the Suru valley
in the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir state, in Northern India. I use the term
factions as this is one of two Shi'ite religious groups in the area that between them
contain the majority of the population, and are normally opposed to each other.
Recently, the yokma-pa have apparently undergone a major political shift from the
1 960s, when they had a millenarian ideology and were primarily concerned with their
own local religious agenda. In the 1990s, they have taken on the role of an interest
group in the context of electoral politics and the local administration. Education is a
major contemporary issue in the area, and through opening their own English medium
private school in Suru, they are addressing the stereotype held by the administration
and in popular discourse in the area that Shi'ahs in Suru are backward and irrational.
The thesis demonstrates the continuity between these two phases. It also shows that
the yokma-pa constitutes a legitimate political organisation, at the same time as being
a religious organisation and a faction.
This thesis makes an important contribution to the anthropology of Ladakh, since there
is now a large amount of detailed ethnography on Buddhists, but very little on
Muslims, who also remain relatively neglected in the ethnography of India more
generally. It may also contribute to academic debates on political forms in India in the
context of the current political crisis, especially the rise of Hindu communalism, since
there is a dearth of contemporary studies of local politics.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Ladakh, muslim, yokma-pa, India, Suru Valley

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Date Deposited:

13 Apr 2015 13:09

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:10



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