Love-Jihad (Muslim Sexual Seduction) and ched-chad (sexual harassment): Hindu nationalist discourses and the Ideal/deviant urban citizen in India

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The phenomenal rise of Hindu nationalism in India has fostered a number of anti-Muslim campaigns, ranging from random enforcement of vegetarianism on beef-eating communities, to highly organised communal riots. This article explores one such strain of Hindu nationalist discursive politics called ‘Love Jihad’, a moral panic against the alleged seduction, marriage, forced conversion and trafficking of young Hindu girls by Muslim men. Against the backdrop of emerging urban modernities, which offers women exposure to education, romantic choices and inter-religious marriages, employment in urban labour economies, and opportunities to experiment with religious ideologies and sexualities, the authors analyse how the discourse of ‘Love Jihad’ was modified to act as a regulatory mechanism to control the choice and mobility of young urban women. This article examines the conceptualisation of ‘Love Jihad’ in multiple nationalist sites, in order to shed light on the ways in which right-wing organisations attempted to realign the urban public sphere in accordance with a gendered Hindu civil order. By drawing on ethnographic fieldwork on the women’s wings of two prominent Hindu nationalist organisations, the authors study a range of doctrinal, informal, practical, persuasive and coercive strategies used by nationalist women leaders to socialise young women into the ideology of perfect Hindu subjecthood; by laying its foundation in the dichotomy between security of the ‘Self’ (women uncorrupted by the fluidities of modern life as ideal, permissible and desirable urban citizens), versus the danger of the ‘Other’ (migrants, Muslims and other undesirable communities in urban public space).

Original languageEnglish
JournalGender, Place and Culture
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)104-125
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2020

    Research areas

  • Hindutva, love jihad, nationalism, sexuality, urban

ID: 226531402