Separated by geography, history, language and culture from their co-religionists in other parts of India, Muslims in contemporary Kerala are in a better social position in many respects. However, within the state, compared to other religious communities, they are socially and educationally backwards. Despite their long history of socio-cultural harmonious life with other communities in the state and their share in its socio-economic development, their present situation of marginalisation in the state raises several questions regarding the links between the cultural processes and the generation, reproduction and contestation of social exclusions.
Analysing the marginalisation of Muslims in Kerala, this paper will try to explain the significance of the concept of Cultural capital and its interplay with other forms of capital as proposed by Pierre Bourdieu (1970; 1984). Considering their strong political participation and the changing economic status thanks to the large-scale migration to the Gulf country, the marginalisation of the largest minority in the state presents an interesting case for sociological explorations. This article would argue that in the absence of proper mobilisation of cultural capital, any measures to empower any community cannot be successful. It is further argued that taking cultural capital as a key concept in investigations of social inequality would help us to identify the sociocultural processes that generate and legitimise social exclusions in contemporary Indian society.