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The rise of strong nationalist and religious movements in postcolonial and newly democratic countries alarms many Western observers. In The Saffron Wave, Thomas Hansen turns our attention to recent events in the world's largest democracy, India. Here he analyzes Indian receptivity to the right-wing Hindu nationalist party and its political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party The rise of strong nationalist and religious movements in postcolonial and newly democratic countries alarms many Western observers. In The Saffron Wave, Thomas Hansen turns our attention to recent events in the world's largest democracy, India. Here he analyzes Indian receptivity to the right-wing Hindu nationalist party and its political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which claims to create a polity based on ancient Hindu culture. Rather than interpreting Hindu nationalism as a mainly religious phenomenon, or a strictly political movement, Hansen places the BJP within the context of the larger transformations of democratic governance in India. Hansen demonstrates that democratic transformation has enabled such developments as political mobilization among the lower castes and civil protections for religious minorities. Against this backdrop, the Hindu nationalist movement has successfully articulated the anxieties and desires of the large and amorphous Indian middle class. A form of conservative populism, the movement has attracted not only privileged groups fearing encroachment on their dominant positions but also plebeian and impoverished groups seeking recognition around a majoritarian rhetoric of cultural pride, order, and national strength. Combining political theory, ethnographic material, and sensitivity to colonial and postcolonial history, The Saffron Wave offers fresh insights into Indian politics and, by focusing on the links between democracy and ethnic majoritarianism, advances our understanding of democracy in the postcolonial world.


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The rise of strong nationalist and religious movements in postcolonial and newly democratic countries alarms many Western observers. In The Saffron Wave, Thomas Hansen turns our attention to recent events in the world's largest democracy, India. Here he analyzes Indian receptivity to the right-wing Hindu nationalist party and its political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party The rise of strong nationalist and religious movements in postcolonial and newly democratic countries alarms many Western observers. In The Saffron Wave, Thomas Hansen turns our attention to recent events in the world's largest democracy, India. Here he analyzes Indian receptivity to the right-wing Hindu nationalist party and its political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which claims to create a polity based on ancient Hindu culture. Rather than interpreting Hindu nationalism as a mainly religious phenomenon, or a strictly political movement, Hansen places the BJP within the context of the larger transformations of democratic governance in India. Hansen demonstrates that democratic transformation has enabled such developments as political mobilization among the lower castes and civil protections for religious minorities. Against this backdrop, the Hindu nationalist movement has successfully articulated the anxieties and desires of the large and amorphous Indian middle class. A form of conservative populism, the movement has attracted not only privileged groups fearing encroachment on their dominant positions but also plebeian and impoverished groups seeking recognition around a majoritarian rhetoric of cultural pride, order, and national strength. Combining political theory, ethnographic material, and sensitivity to colonial and postcolonial history, The Saffron Wave offers fresh insights into Indian politics and, by focusing on the links between democracy and ethnic majoritarianism, advances our understanding of democracy in the postcolonial world.

30 review for The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Daniels

    This is a challenge to read, its a bit dense, the writing style is a bit unapproachable. However, the work is high quality, its a great source, but its heavily academic, and not for a casual reader. I think the author's work is amazing, he has a deep understanding of what he's writing about, this is not a surface work. This is a challenge to read, its a bit dense, the writing style is a bit unapproachable. However, the work is high quality, its a great source, but its heavily academic, and not for a casual reader. I think the author's work is amazing, he has a deep understanding of what he's writing about, this is not a surface work.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    It's okay - he's just a political scientist. Here's how the BJP became possible; here's how the political sphere changed between the Nehruvian and the post-Nehruvian; here's what a Sangh Parivar looks and talks like; this is what naked self-interest (class interest; caste interest) looks like; this is what ideology looks like; and this is how hegemony is won. I could have used less of Laclau and Zizek and more hilarious quotes from the body politic, e.g., "How can you have half-naked women as god It's okay - he's just a political scientist. Here's how the BJP became possible; here's how the political sphere changed between the Nehruvian and the post-Nehruvian; here's what a Sangh Parivar looks and talks like; this is what naked self-interest (class interest; caste interest) looks like; this is what ideology looks like; and this is how hegemony is won. I could have used less of Laclau and Zizek and more hilarious quotes from the body politic, e.g., "How can you have half-naked women as gods? Everything Hindu is obsesses with this. All is sexy, sexy" - Muslim informant, n. 11, p. 265. Or "A Hindu is like any other human being, only more so..." - the Hindu Declaration, n. 22, p. 267.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brendan

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    Blaine

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    Olivia Haber-Greenwood

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    Dee Dee

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    Saumya

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    SK

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    J. Aaron Blecher

    changed everything

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    Zack Exley

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    Emily

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Taft

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