Raheel Dhattiwala’s research focuses on ethnic violence, specifically Hindu-Muslim violence in India, and political sociology. She has a Ph.D. in Sociology from Nuffield College, University of Oxford and her thesis was titled ‘Hindu-Muslim Violence in Gujarat, 2002: Political Logic, Spatial Configuration, and Communal Cooperation’ which investigates spatial variation in violence in Gujarat in 2002. The thesis draws upon her training in quantitative and qualitative methods at Oxford to link broader structural contexts with individual behaviour to identify risk factors associated with the violence. A co-authored paper from her doctoral thesis, published in Politics & Society in 2012, reveals the political logic of the Gujarat violence in 2002. It systematically demonstrates that anti-Muslim killings in the post-Godhra violence were most likely where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faced the greatest electoral competition. As an M.Sc student at Oxford earlier, her dissertation had also examined Hindu-Muslim violence during the Ayodhya Temple campaign in the 1990s.
In 2009, The Centre for Communication and Development Studies in Pune awarded her with the Open Space Fellowship for Ahmedabad, funded by the Ford Foundation, for her project titled “An ‘Oblique Approach’ to Developing Sustainable Intercommunal Interaction in a Deeply Segregated City”. Based on Gordon Allport’s familiar ‘contact hypothesis,’ the project aimed at building alliances between Hindu and Muslim youth living in segregated neighbourhoods of the city.
Formerly a journalist with The Times of India in Ahmedabad, Dhattiwala has reported on a variety of subjects, including the Gujarat riots in 2002 and caste-based reservations in central educational institutions in 2006.
She continues to engage with both academic and non-academic audiences having presented academic papers in the United States, United Kingdom and India and contributing opinion and analysis in The Hindu , Hindustan Times , Seminar and The Times of India . In 2005, she was awarded with the Scholar of Peace media fellowship by WISCOMP, New Delhi, for her project documenting social changes among Muslims of Ahmedabad in the years following the 1992 and 2002 violence. It was published as a monograph in 2006.
As a Public Policy Scholar with The Hindu Centre, Dhattiwala examined an extant political phenomenon in the State of Gujarat: the support of Muslims for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that many Muslims perceive as responsible for the brutal violence in the State in 2002 when at least a thousand Muslims were killed.
Read Policy Report No. 5 here:The puzzle of the BJP’s Muslim supporters in Gujarat.