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Western Hindutva. Hindu nationalism in the United Kingdom and North America


The “long distance nationalism” of diasporas is generally attributed to the nostalgia of these communities for their original homeland. Benedict Anderson, who coined this expression, even suggested that a nearly automatic allegiance binds members of an ethnic diaspora to its homeland1 . However, the context of the host society often plays a crucial role in the birth of such nationalisms. The specific combination of multiculturalism and racism that can be found in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada has been particularly conducive to this form of identity politics: it has not only made it possible – or even legitimate – but it has also fostered this form of ethnic mobilisation. Indeed, in these three countries, multiculturalism has enhanced the role and status of community leaders and has emphasized communitarianism through affirmative action and the introduction of quotas for example. The implementation of these policies has coincided with the rise of racism, which further reinforced community-based visions of society and politics. The roots of long-distance nationalism can be traced to this very particular conjunction in the host countries. However, this approach still ignores the impact of ideology-driven movements which are usually based in the mother-country but whose networks spread over vast territories. The Hindu nationalist movement illustrates this. Its activities outside India have only recently been brought to light in the wake of the 2002 events in Gujarat although the Sangh Parivar had been developing several of its offshoots abroad over the last thirty years. Far from being instilled by sheer nostalgia in a favourable context, Hindu nationalism in the West is a carefully crafted graft elaborated in the motherland and then methodically spread around the world to serve ideological and strategic purposes. The careful engineering of the RSS’s global presence thus sheds a new light on the dynamics of long-distance nationalism and points out to the continuing domination of a central authority.
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hal-03473796 , version 1 (10-12-2021)



Christophe Jaffrelot. Western Hindutva. Hindu nationalism in the United Kingdom and North America. Deana Heath; Chandana Mathur. Communalism and Globalization in South Asia and its Diaspora, Routledge, pp.45 - 56, 2011. ⟨hal-03473796⟩
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