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Absolute Nationalism & Hindutva Inversions

24 March 2023, 3:00 pm

Populism, Majoritarian States, and South Asia Today
Absolute Nationalism & Hindutva Inversions

Location: GWS 100 or on Zoom (hybrid event)

A panel discussion with Angana P. Chatterji and Audrey Truschke. Register here:

“Absolute Nationalism: Majoritarian Emplacements, Globalism, and India’s Far Right State”

Angana P. Chatterji

The talk sketches the populist architecture and performative spaces of nationalist, far-right cultures and movements in India today that pose Hindus as authentic and non-Hindu “Others” as “anti-nationals”, “insurrectionists” and “outsiders”. The weaponization of religion and racialization of difference sanction deep impunity, exclusionary changes to the law and reformulations of history, social life and political economy, authenticating political violence and expanding vigilantism and repressive government. At the intersection of globalism and majoritarian determinations of
“homeland”, the Modi-led BJP defines the discursive dimensions and apparatuses of absolute nationalism.


“Hindutva Inversions: When History Isn’t History”

Audrey Truschke

Hindutva is a far-right ideology, and yet many of its followers employ progressive language, such as calling for decolonization, claiming to center indigenous voices, and using anti-racist discourse. This paper begins by outlining this broader Hindu nationalist strategy of inverting progressive ideas. I highlight both the ideological grounding of this approach as well as its conceptual and rhetorical implications. I then turn to one facet of the Hindutva penchant for inversion, namely treating mythology as history. Using examples drawn from Hindu Right discourses in India and the United States, I explore tensions in the Hindu nationalist embrace of the importance of history coupled with the rejection of historical method and historians.

Angana P. Chatterji

Chatterji is Research Anthropologist and Founding Co-chair, Political Conflict, Gender and People’s Rights Initiative at the Center for Race and Gender at University of California, Berkeley. Her recent publications include Majoritarian State: How Hindu Nationalism is Changing India.

Audrey Truschke

Truschke is associate professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. She received her Ph.D. in 2012 from Columbia University. Her research focuses on the cultural, imperial, and intellectual history of early modern and modern India (c. 1200-present).