The British Journal of Politics and International Relations
Volume 9 Issue 2 Page 257-269, May 2007
Anxious Sexualities: Masculinity, Nationalism and Violence
An ethnographic research among activists subscribing to majoritarian Hindu nationalism in India reveals that anxiety, masculinity and sexuality are crucial ingredients in their identity politics. The inimical figure used to mobilise the Hindu nationalist identity is a stereotyped Muslim masculinity which in turn is imagined as dangerous owing to a mix of negative images of Islam, history, physicality and culture. The specificities of anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002, and especially the pervasiveness of sexual violence there, can be understood as an assertion of the new Hindu identity which conflates nationalism with masculinity and violence. And yet it was the complicity of the institutions of the state that accounted for the lethality of violence in Gujarat. The article argues that masculinised nationalism and embedded statehood are crucial features of contemporary (inter)national politics.