Muscular Nationalism in Contemporary India

Part of: In Pursuit of Knowledge - Spring

Course description

Traits used to describe a powerful nation are almost always synonymous with those used to depict a strong man. Indeed, the images of and behaviour associated with a dominant interpretation of masculinity line up nicely with a nation perceived as powerful on the global stage. Dr. Banerjee has termed this link between nation and manhood: muscular nationalism. Briefly put, muscular nationalism is an intersection of a specific vision of masculinity with the political doctrine of nationalism. This idea of nation is animated by an idea of manhood associated with martial prowess, muscular strength and toughness.

In this talk, Dr. Banerjee will explore the contemporary expression of muscular nationalism in India which has been shaped by a historical legacy of being constructed as “effeminate” by the British colonial powers and by an attempt to reimagine a martial past that will provide a fitting background for a ‘manly’ modern India. She will also discuss how the nationalist confidence of an assertive global middle class and the prominence of Hindu nationalist politics has provided a cultural context within which muscular nationalism has had a powerful popular resonance.

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