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Hindu nationalism, diaspora politics and nation-building in India

  • Catarina Kinnvall
  • Ted Svensson
Publishing year: 2010
Language: English
Pages: 274-292
Publication/Series: Australian Journal of International Affairs
Volume: 64
Issue: 3
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Abstract english

This article proceeds from a critical reading of the role of religion for nation-building in India. In particular, the authors discuss how the Indian notion of secularism relies upon a number of religious legacies manifest in a Gandhian notion of what constitutes religious and political communities. Proceeding from this general picture, the authors examine how Hindu nationalists have used such legacies to enforce exclusionary practices by establishing certain hegemonic structures of rigid religious boundaries and practices with the aim of maintaining antagonistic movements within the Hindu fold. This, the authors argue, has been the case both among Hindu nationalists in India and among the widespread diaspora in Europe, Canada and the United States. Here, the authors critically evaluate a number of attempts to challenge these hegemonic structures in terms of secular and religious forces as well in terms of legalistic understandings of citizenship rights. It is argued that religion can and has played a positive role in Indian nation-building, but that Hindu nationalism has continuously reproduced exclusionary practices against other religious communities and worked against any forms of assimilatory processes.


  • Political Science


  • ISSN: 1035-7718
Catarina Kinnvall
E-mail: catarina [dot] kinnvall [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se


Department of Political Science

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