The (Failed) Production of Hindu Nationalized Space in Ahmedabad, Gujarat


Bacchetta, Paola. 2010. “The (Failed) Production of Hindu Nationalized Space in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.” Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 17 (5): 551-72.

Author: Paola Bacchetta


This article addresses the attempt by India's most extensive Hindu nationalist organization, the RSS, and its women's wing, the Samiti, to Hindu nationalize the city of Ahmedabad, Gujarat. It makes two inter-related arguments. It argues that notwithstanding long-term, intense Hindu nationalist efforts to Hindu nationalize the city space and its subjects, the project has been and remains a failure. The heterogeneity of the city-space and its subjects infinitely exceeds such homogenizing moves. It also suggests that while Hindu nationalists claim that religious difference is key, gender and sexuality are inseparably crucial to their constructions, violations and eliminations of subjects, architectural structures and territorialities across scale. In a first section this article addresses the RSS's and Samiti's grids of intelligibility: their categories (especially of space, gender, sexuality and subjects), logics and prescriptions for conduct. A second section focuses on RSS and Samiti practices to transform the city, envisaging these in relation to the organizations' grids of intelligibility. They include: daily paramilitary training, periodic economic boycotts against Muslims and exceptional massive anti-Muslim violence including genocidal pogroms. The article concludes with remarks about the links between Hindu nationalist discourse and practice, the failures of Hindu nationalization, and resistant agentic and non-agentic counter-transformations of the city. The author draws from three types of primary sources: RSS and Samiti publications; the publications of groups against Hindu nationalism; and notes from multiple periods of fieldwork in Ahmedabad from 1987 to 2008.

Topics: Gender, Women, Nationalism, Religion, Violence Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2010

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