(Un)Modifying India: Nationalism, Sexual Violence and the Politics of Hindutva

  • Rashmi Varma


The postcolonial Indian state has since its inception used sexual violence to keep resurgent rebellions in check within its formal territory, and has for long provided the means of the production of sexual violence to dominant sections of society. In this essay I suggest that with the rise of the Hindu right to political power at key levels of states and the centre over the last three decades, a new social and political dynamic has been unleashed. Sexual violence has come to constitute public and private lives in unprecedented ways that include a radical realignment of public and private spheres as well as the production of a rejuvenated masculinist state and society seeking to resignify tradition and modernity within the framework of Hindutva or Hindu supremacy.  While this force signals a political defeat for liberal and secular feminism at some level, it also opens up new opportunities to reimagine the vocabularies of freedom and rights against the new political order.


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