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Hindutva: a passive revolution?

Authors: Thomas Crowley*, Rutgers University
Topics: Political Geography, Asia, Economic Geography
Keywords: Hindutva; Gramsci; passive revolution
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The paper will employ the Gramscian concept of “passive revolution” to analyze the current ascendancy of the Hindutva project in India. Earlier conceptualizations of passive revolution in India, notably those put forward by Sudipta Kaviraj and Partha Chatterjee, primarily imagined passive revolution as a project of the capitalist class. However, Gramsci himself uses the term in a much more expansive sense, as geographers like Gillian Hart and theorists like Aijaz Ahmad have suggested. What does it mean to imagine the current ruling bloc in India as a complex nexus of capital-caste-religion? How has this bloc achieved hegemony – through what combination of outright force, cultural projects, savvy alliances and relentless branding? Though exploring these questions on an all-India level, the paper will focus on Maharashtra, a state which has produced both the RSS (founded by Maharashtrian Brahmins) and a vibrant anti-caste movement. How has the former won out over the latter – at least in the current moment? Finally, the paper seeks to ask: how does analyzing the Hindutva project as a passive revolution help us conceptualize modes of resistance, and of building towards what Gramsci would term an emancipatory “revolution in permanence”?

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