Militant Hindu Nationalist Women Reimagine Themselves: Notes on Mechanisms of Expansion/Adjustment


Bacchetta, Paola. 1999. “Militant Hindu Nationalist Women Reimagine Themselves: Notes on Mechanisms of Expansion/Adjustment.” Journal of Women’s History 10 (4): 125-47.

Author: Paola Bacchetta


This article explores modes in which women militants from India's most extensive Hindu nationalist organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, have used Hindu nationalist discourse to produce themselves as political agents. The author compares personal narratives of three Hindu nationalist women militants from three different generations to the official discourse of the RSS and its affiliated women's organization, Rashtra Sevika Samiti. Notwithstanding the diversity of the women's life trajectories, identities, perspectives, and modes of political engagement, there are also some commonalities. All three women selectively modify official Rashtra Sevika Samiti discourse to justify their personal, intellectual, emotional, physical, and spatial expansion as new political agents. Simultaneously, they reproduce official RSS anti-feminist and anti-Muslim stances, thereby ensuring their own confinement within the Hindu nationalist order which ultimately men dominate. Thus, the women end up adjusting to their (newly conceptualized and expanded, albeit still subordinate) place within that order.

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Nationalism, Political Participation, Religion Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 1999

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