Christophe Jaffrelot

Christophe Jaffrelot (born 12 February 1964) is a French political scientist specialising in South Asia, particularly India and Pakistan. He is a professor of South Asian politics and history the Centre d'études et de recherches internationales (CERI) at Sciences Po (Paris), a professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at the King's India Institute (London), and a Research Director at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS).[1]

Christophe Jaffrelot is a graduate of the institut d’études politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris, the université de Paris-I Panthéon-Sorbonne and of the (INALCO). He has a doctorate of political science from Sciences Po in 1991, and has received a post-doctoral Habilitation degree.[2]

Jaffrelot works at the Centre for Studies in International Relations (CERI)-Sciences Po and has served as its Director from 2000 to 2008.[3] He is currently a senior research fellow at CNRS and a professor at Sciences Po. He is also a visiting professor at the India Institute, King's College London, and has taught at Columbia University, Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, the Université de Montréal, and as a Global Scholar at Princeton University.[2] Since 2008, he has been a non-resident fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Jaffrelot was awarded the CNRS Bronze Medal in 1993, has served as editor or editor-in-chief of several scholarly journals on politics and sociology, and is a Permanent Consultant at the Direction de la Prospective of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[4] He also chairs the Scientific council of the six research centers of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and CNRS in Asia since 2007. Jaffrelot is the president of the Political Science section of the French National Committee for Scientific Research (CoNRS) since 2012.[4]

Jaffrelot's research is centred on South Asia, particularly India and Pakistan. His publications on India cover aspects of Indian nationalism and democracy, Hindu nationalism, caste mobilisation in politics and ethnic conflicts.[5][6] Similarly, on Pakistan, his scholarship has focused on Pakistani nationalism, Islamic fundamentalism, Taliban and Kashmir militancy, politics, coups and its history as a rentier state in the context of global geopolitics.[7] His interest in India was kindled when he was still in school, through a philosophy teacher well-versed in Indian philosophy. He visited India when he was 20 and found the Indian society interesting in many different ways.[5]

He is the senior editor of the Sciences Po book series, Comparative Politics and International Relations published by C. Hurst & Co. He has been the editor-in-chief of Critique Internationale and serves on the editorial boards of Nations and Nationalism and International Political Sociology. He is also on the editorial board of The Online Encyclopaedia of Mass Violence.[2]

He often writes columns for the Indian Express and The Caravan, and received the Ramnath Goenka Award for Excellence in Journalism.[8] He was awarded the Brienne Prize for geopolitics by the Defense Ministry of France for his book Le Syndrome Pakistanais.[9]

The book Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics, based on his doctorate research, is considered Jaffrelot's magnum opus. Walter Andersen, a scholar who has studied the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS),[14] said that "for the expert on South Asia, this book is an absolute must." Craig Baxter, another author,[15] said that it was required for anyone with an interest in South Asia.[16] Stacey Burlet states that the book combines "an abundance of information" with "lucid analysis."[17] Richard White states that the book is "formidably well researched and explores all the main arguments and themes relating to the subject."[18] White adds that Jaffrelot – based on the research and understanding of Indian society and politics – predicted that the Hindu nationalist ideology-based Bharatiya Janata Party will not be able to win general elections and form the central government, a prediction that proved to be incorrect to Jaffrelot's misfortune.[19]

According to Bhagwan Josh, Jaffrelot's The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics is based on extensive fieldwork and effort making it an "immensely rewarding read", but makes a number of "untenable assumptions" regarding the nature of Indian culture, "Hindu consciousness/identity", and the nature of early Hindu nationalism within the Indian National Congress.[20] According to T. V. Sathyamurthy, Jaffrelot's scholarship on Hindu nationalism is an important contribution with empirical depth and field research in Madhya Pradesh and the interviews of RSS members.[21] He states that Jaffrelot's insights include Hindutva as a form of nationalism that is based on a "cultural criteria rather than on racial theory" and a view of "politics based on ethnic nationalism". Along with this and numerous other remarkable insights, Jaffrelot advocates a rubric of "Stigmatising and Emulating Threatening Others" strategy, which Satyamurthy finds to be flawed, "not only childish" but also "psychologically reductionist and politically nonsensical" in the context of India.[21]

According to Asad Abbasi of London School of Economics, Jaffrelot's book The Pakistan Paradox is a necessary text for every student interested in Pakistan. However, states Abbasi, the book is "littered with spelling mistakes, repetition, tense conflicts and other silly errors — on page 130, Mumtaz Bhutto is cousin of ZA Bhutto, but by page 134 Mumtaz becomes Benazir’s cousin".[22] According to Tania Patel, Jaffrelot provides "compelling insights for understanding the nuances of the contestations and continuities in Pakistan’s state and society" and elaborates "the country’s chronic instability in three contradictions whose roots lie in tensions apparent since the 1940s".[23]