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Vigilante publics: orientalism, modernity and Hindutva fascism in India

Banaji, Shakuntala (2018) Vigilante publics: orientalism, modernity and Hindutva fascism in India. Javnost - the Public. pp. 333-350. ISSN 1318-3222

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Identification Number: 10.1080/13183222.2018.1463349


This paper explores the interconnections of Hindutva fascist repertoires in India and quasi-orientalist discourses. History and common sense are re-written through audiovisual communications to appeal to one section of a dangerously split Indian public and a neoliberal-touristic sensibility elsewhere. Enlightenment rhetorics of progress, democracy and technological development are apparently embodied by WhatsApp groups, electronic voting machines and laws to protect cows. Voting—as a marker of democratic citizenship—becomes a masquerade protecting a resurgent far right Hindutva (Hindu fascist) regime under the aegis of Narendra Modi and the BJP. Caste Hinduism’s association of cows with deities, and the proscription on meat-eating in certain versions of religious practice, are used as pretexts for unimaginable violence against Muslims, Christians, Dalits, and working class/lower caste Hindus. Violence against those who dissent is rationalised as patriotic. Hindutva’s banal and spectacular audiovisual discourse overwhelms public communication. Its consequences are a form of vigilante citizenship that is marked on the bodies of dead victims and of vigilante publics ready to be mobilised either in ethno-cultural violence or its defence and disavowal. Meanwhile, attracted to India as an enormous market, Western governments and corporations have colluded with the Hindutva regime’s self-promotion as a bastion of development.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The Author
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Date Deposited: 25 May 2018 15:35
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:27

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