History as Violence: Hindutva’s War and the Battlefield of India
Often described as ‘conspiratorial’ and a form of ‘crypto nationalism’, Hindutva (political Hinduism/Hindu nationalism) was articulated simultaneously with Gandhi’s assertion and signature politics of nonviolence in the last century. Hindutva was a new name as an attempt to bridge the empty gap between the political and Hinduism. Secrecy, fraternity, territory inasmuch as blood and the significance of history and its writing were foundational to the conceptual repertoire of Hindutva. The overarching idea of war and the political as a war formation, rendered Hindutva a specifically twentieth century ideology. In elaborating these themes, and contrary to dominant understandings, I argue that Hindutva is not the expression of ‘Hindu nationalism’ signifying a variant form of Indian nationalism — authentic, hidden or fabricated. Instead, as a distinct theory of violence, Hindutva as elaborated by its ideologue, Savarkar, is a series of conditions of enmity for a potential and new fraternity. As a political idea, Hindutva conceptualised enmity as perpetual while detaching India from its territorial specificities and transforming it into a battlefield. The paper will contextualise Hindutva in global intellectual history and the political thought of conservatism and fascism.
Dr. Shruti Kapila lectures and researches on modern Indian history, political thought and global history at the Faculty of History and is Fellow and Director of Studies at Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge. She is editor of An Intellectual History for India (CUP, 2010) and co-editor of Political Thought in Action: The Bhagavad Gita and Modern India (CUP, 2013). She is currently completing a book on political ideologies and violence in twentieth century India. She has published on political thought, global intellectual history and violence in Modern Intellectual History, Past and Present, Social Text and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of History of Ideas. She also does commentary most recently on Indian elections for BBC (radio and television) Bloomberg TV and Al-Jazeera and for print media including, Financial Times, Economic Times, Outlook and Indian Express.
Tuesday November 1: 15-17h: VOC Kamer / East India Room
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