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Border PoliticsSocial Movements, Collective Identities, and Globalization$
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Nancy A. Naples and Jennifer Bickham Mendez

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781479898992

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479898992.001.0001

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Defending the Nation

Defending the Nation

Militarism, Women’s Empowerment, and the Hindu Right

Chapter:
(p.60) 3 Defending the Nation
Source:
Border Politics
Author(s):

Meera Sehgal

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479898992.003.0003

This chapter describes paramilitary camps in India in which middle-class, urban Hindu women's gender identities are deployed to support interethnic violence and militarization. The instruction and trainings that young women receive at the camps socialize them into a particular Hindu nationalist worldview through the cultivation of a siege mentality that is built on the fear of a sexually violent male, Muslim “other.” Through these camps, anti-Muslim hatred is used as an antidote to the fragmentation of ethno-nationalist allegiances in order “to patch the fractured Hindu polity together.” Hindu nationalist women's elevation to the symbolically powerful position of citizen warriors is nonetheless tempered and circumscribed by an emphasis on feminine duty and sacrifice. Thus, despite the potential for empowerment of women, the dichotomy of women as in need of protection and men as natural protectors remains intact within the militarized, nationalist ideologies promoted at the camps.

Keywords:   India, paramilitary camps, Hindu women, Hindu nationalist movement, feminine siege mentality, gender identity, interethnic violence, militarization

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