Economic downturns can create conditions for mass uprisings that threaten an authoritarian ruler. Religious authority can provide the ideological force needed to solve the collective action problem that hinders a revolution. When co-option is infeasible, the ruler can respond to economic shocks by suppressing the religious authority of the popular religion. In this talk, Ticku provides empirical evidence of this response in medieval India. Using centuries of geo-referenced data Ticku documents a positive relationship between weather fluctuations and the destruction of Hindu temples under Muslim rule. Specifically, during periods of large weather fluctuations the likelihood of a Muslim State desecrating a Hindu temple increases by about 1 percentage point (relative to the baseline of 0.7%). Ticku explores various mechanisms that could drive the ruler's response and show that regime stability is the likely explanation for this relationship. The talk contributes to understanding the behavior of authoritarian regimes in diverse societies.

 

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