Mythopolitics in South Asia


India has been caught in a question for almost a decade now: is it a secular democracy or is it a Hindu nation? The struggles over this question goes from the parliament to the streets, from Facebook to living rooms, from the metropolis to the margins.

The Indian Prime minister and his party routinely invoke Hindu deities in political campaigns. Hindu nationalist forces have been transforming and coopting traditional religious practices to upper caste Hinduism in indigenous and oppressed caste communities for several decades. Activists trying to stop this process of cooption claim that Hindu myths —with all the deities and their stories of good and evil—form the moral core of the supremacy of upper caste Hindus. They deconstruct these myths through social media campaigns to question the chastity of Hindu goddesses, the moral uprightness of Hindu gods, and the purity of Hindu scriptures. They demand that we reexamine the role of religious myths in contemporary politics.

In this episode, Kenneth Bo Nielsen is joined by Moumita Sen, Silje L. Einarsen, The’ang Theron and Guro W. Samuelsen to discuss the ongoing narrative construction and mythological contestations of the current Hindu nationalist regime.

The project Mythopolitics in South Asia, led by Moumita Sen at the MF School of Theology, Religion and Society, studies how the Hindu nationalist party and its oppositional forces use popular mythic Hindu narratives in electoral politics and social movements in contemporary India.

The Nordic Asia Podcast is a collaboration sharing expertise on Asia across the Nordic region, brought to you by the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) based at the University of Copenhagen, along with our academic partners: the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Turku, and Asianettverket at the University of Oslo.

We aim to produce timely, topical and well-edited discussions of new research and developments about Asia.

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Kenneth Bo Nielsen

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