Militant Publics In India: Physical Culture And Violence In The Making Of A Modern Polity

Hardcover | October 15, 2011

byArafaat A. Valiani

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This creative study explores how Mohandas Gandhi's celebrated concept of satyagraha (non-violence) was eclipsed by the xenophobic Hindu nationalist movement that has organized ferocious episodes of ethnic cleansing against minority communities in contemporary India. By means of a close reading of Gandhi's writing on popular mobilization and resistance, and a detailed historical investigation of hitherto understudied episodes of satyagraha that took place in the first half of the twentieth century, Valiani illuminates debates on politics in South Asian history, anthropology, and sociology. Among other insights, this inquiry underscores the continuities and discontinuities between physical culture and various contending modes of popular political protest and activism in Gandhi's satyagraha movement and the militant Hindu nationalist movement in the western Indian state of Gujarat in the colonial and postcolonial periods. Interpreting his own direct observation of Hindu nationalist pogroms in contemporary Gujarat, in addition to testimonies and ethnographic observations of the inner workings of the movement that were revealed to the author when he was a "trainee" within it, this brilliant account offers readers a rare insider perspective on the social and religious world that historically and culturally produces militants.

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This creative study explores how Mohandas Gandhi's celebrated concept of satyagraha (non-violence) was eclipsed by the xenophobic Hindu nationalist movement that has organized ferocious episodes of ethnic cleansing against minority communities in contemporary India. By means of a close reading of Gandhi's writing on popular mobilizatio...

Arafaat A. Valiani is an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Oregon.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:284 pages, 8.61 × 5.71 × 0.85 inPublished:October 15, 2011Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230112579

ISBN - 13:9780230112575

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Table of Contents

PART I: MODALITIES OF POLITICAL MOBILIZATION * Efficacies of Political Action: Physical Culture and the Kinesthetic Politics of Gandhian Nationalism * Preparatory Training and Disciplined Satyagraha in Bardoli (1928) * Militant Peacekeeping and Subterfugic Violence of the Quit India Movement (1942) * PART II: ELABORATING POLITICAL ITINERARIES * Physical Culture, Civic Activism, and Hindu Nationalism in the City * Physical Training, Ethical Discipline, and Creative Violence: Zones of Self-Mastery in the Hindu Nationalist Movement

Editorial Reviews

“In this remarkable book, Valiani looks the horrific ‘saffron’ violence of Gujarat in 2002 squarely in the eye and sets out to understand through first-hand encounters with participants how disciplined physical training not only makes tragedy possible but also shapes moral dispositions, new forms of sociality, and civic engagement. In the archival-based historical chapters, he shows us the roots of this training in the nationalist movement and the permeability between Gandhian practice and the violence of the Hindu Right. This absorbing study is a major contribution to understanding modern political life in India.”—Barbara D. Metcalf, author of Husain Ahmad Madani: The Jihad for Islam and India's Freedom (2009) and president of the American Historical Association (2010)  “Valiani draws on rich and extensive fieldwork to theorize a series of unexpected links between Mahatma Gandhi, bodily self-fashioning, and performative politics with erudition and verve. He attributes contemporary Hindu nationalism, and the violence of contemporary electoral politics in India more generally, to the unintended (and unacknowledged) outcome of these elements. This is a bold intervention in the debates on democratization that will reward its readers with a distinctive and illuminating interpretation of the persistence of Hindu nationalism in western India.”—Arvind Rajagopal, professor of Media Studies and affiliated faculty in the Departments of Sociology and Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University and author of Politics After Television: Hindu Nationalism and the Reshaping of the Public in India “Subtle yet powerful. By demonstrating the ways that physical training is embedded within local communities and the meanings that therefore adhere to such practices, Valiani enables us to come away with a much different understanding of how and why communal violence occurs. This has dramatic implications for those who seek to combat communal violence, as well as for those interested in collective violence in contexts other than India.”—Lisa Mitchell, assistant professor of South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania and author of Language, Emotion, and Politics in South India: The Making of a Mother Tongue  "Valiani's timely and important study of Hindu militancy in western India provides invaluable background for understanding the communal violence in Gujarat of recent decades. Valiani gives us an unprecedented look at the way Hindu nationalist movements have linked physical training and discipline with religious mobilization and organization. His nuanced and wide-ranging historical ethnography not only contextualizes the rise of communal violence in India, it affords an astonishing inside view of the way the movement inducts and shapes its trainees."--Nicholas B. Dirks, Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History and executive vice president for Arts and Sciences, Columbia University