ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

In the Service of a ‘Just Cause’: Unpacking Women’s Violent Activisms


Saluja Anshu - Independent early-career researcher, Independent early-career researcher, New Delhi, India


03 – Changing Forms of Gendered Participation in Politico-ideological Movements in South Asia: Histories, Networks, (In)Visibilities


 The surging right wing is posing a critical challenge to democracies and pluralism all over the world today. The case of contemporary India, where a majoritarian right-wing politico-ideological formation commands power, is no exception. The country has been buffeted by a rolling tide of Hindu majoritarian politics. The militant creed of Hindu nationalism has come to enjoy growing ascendancy and influence, riding on resounding victories and decisive mandates in successive national elections. This ascendant creed, firmly anchored to the idea of Hindu supremacy, envisions the creation of a Hindu Rashtra or Nation in India.

I was specifically drawn towards locating the ideological and organisational moorings of women warriors of the Hindu Nation. I sought to examine different facets of Hindu nationalist women’s militancy and their, often violent, activisms. It has been my attempt to study their violent commitments, coupled with their advocacy of and/or direct participation in mass violence at particular moments. For them, violence against designated ‘others’ is an expedient means to further the Hindu nationalist cause and tropes illustrating its efficacy find a ready place in their narrations.

This paper unpacks the considerations and motivations that stitch together their violent activism, the wider social milieu in which it is forged, and the forms that it takes. Through detailed conversations and interviews, it draws out their role as faithful combatants of Hindu nationalism.