Religious Division and Social Conflict: The Emergence of Hindu Nationalism in Rural India is an ethnographic account of the emergence of Hindu nationalism in a tribal (adivasi) community in Chhattisgarh, central India. It is argued that the successful spread of Hindu nationalism in this area is due to the involvement of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militant Hindu nationalist organization, in local affairs. While active engagement in ‘civilizing’ strategies has enabled the RSS to legitimize its presence and endear itself to the local community, the book argues that participation in more aggressive strategies has made it possible for this organization to fuel and attach local tensions to a broader Hindu nationalist agenda.
Religious Division and Social Conflict further argues that while the RSS is the active agent in this process, its specific impact is a function of its relation of opposition to the Church. The influence of the latter, which was well established in the area, has recently been challenged by the RSS. In order to protect and strengthen their respective positions of dominance, both institutions have been instrumental in dividing the local population. This division has often been expressed in conflict over land, healthcare and political leadership.
Religious Division and Social Conflict engages with themes such as religion, land relations, liquor disputes, health care, and political leadership.
Peggy Froerer is Lecturer in Anthropology, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University, UK.