Sanderien Verstappen's picture
Affiliated Fellow
Sanderien Verstappen

India witnesses a proliferation of ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ spaces, which reflect deepening segregation along religious lines. Many scholars have studied the causes and consequences of religious politics, violence, displacement, and residential segregation, however, this project addresses the topic from a distinct viewpoint, looking not only at the spread of ‘ghettos’ and ‘gates’ but also at what is happening in between: the routes people travel when going to work or visiting acquaintances, the anxieties encountered along the way, and the historical transformations in their experiences of connectivity.

Looking at segregation from the angle of mobility to explore how new spaces are being made as well as navigated, my research shows how routes of rural-urban connectivity and trajectories of transnational migration and return are being modified under new regimes of rural and urban development and how social relations are maintained and transformed in the process. This anthropological and historical perspective allows for deeper reflection on questions of segregation and mobility which are currently the object of much public debate as well as protest in India.

While most scholarly debate in contemporary India concentrates on the city, this project puts rural India centre stage. Based on research in and around the town of Anand in central Gujarat and among migrants from the region based in the UK and USA, it maps the historical process of rerouting relations in the period between the anti-Muslim pogroms of 2002 and the train attacks of 2017, through methods of ‘travel-along’ ethnography and ‘on the road’ oral histories.

My fellowship at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) in Leiden rounds off the final stage of this research project, with the purpose of developing the project into a book publication. The project builds on my PhD thesis ‘Mobility and the Region’ (2016), which was part of the WOTRO-funded research program ‘Provincial Globalisation’ at the University of Amsterdam and the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore.


  • Social Anthropology

Country of origin


Period of stay at IIAS

01/09/2017 to 30/04/2019

Research topic

Rerouting Relations: Navigating emergent Muslim and Hindu spaces in rural India

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