Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

In Saffron: Culture, Gender and Polity under Hindu Nationalism in India

Angana Chatterji.

In the unacceptable contradictions of postcolonial India, it is incumbent on those most bereft to confront injustice. Resistance movements are shaped, political practise determined, and identity languaged in relation to the actions of state, processes of globalisation, social violence and counter-democratic forces of majoritarian nationalism. Contested meanings and practices of local democracy are made volatile in the context of maldevelopment and political corruption, infected by entrenched discriminations based on caste and religion, always gendered and classed. Minority groups are made further vulnerable by the ascent of Hindu majoritarianism and its use of development and education as canals of operation. Across India, systematic infringements of human rights are taking place linked to the disintegration of indigenous (and other non-Hindu) cultures. These processes, sanctioned by the state, employ cultural annihilation as a method of incorporating the marginal into the national polity. This paper will examine elite aspirations in nation making, the imposition of violent ideologies and alienating identities, that have coerced majoritarian Hindu nationalism.


Angana Chatterji  (United States)
Associate Professor
Social and Cultural Anthropology Program
California Institute of Integral Studies

Angana Chatterji has integrated scholarship, research, and activism in linking the roles of citizen and intellectual. Dr. Chatterji is associate professor in the Social and Cultural Anthropology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Her work focuses primarily on India, and South Asia, and her perspectives have been defined by a lifetime of learning and living there. Since 1984 she has been working with postcolonial social movements in India and internationally, toward enabling participatory democracy, and social and ecological justice. Dr. Chatterji lives and works both in India and the Bay Area, and since 1997 has been teaching at CIIS. She teaches in the areas of human rights, social and ecological justice, nationalism, development, international relations, social movements, postcolonial and subaltern studies, feminist and applied research.

  • Nationalism
  • Democracy
  • Grassroots Movements
  • Subalterneity
  • Majoritarianism

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)