Event Title

Purifying the Sacred: How Hindu Nationalism Reshapes Environmentalism in Contemporary India

Location

King Building 241

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2018 5:30 PM

End Date

4-27-2018 6:50 PM

Abstract

The transposition of the cultural, religious, and sacred onto physical geographies is practiced by humans everywhere as landscapes are canvases for meaning making and place holders of histories. In the Indian context, this practice is distinct for several reasons. Scholars of Hinduism recognize that the place-oriented disposition and centrality of land to Hindu religion and culture is unprecedented, and integral to the tradition as well as identity formation in modern India. As India faces increasing environmental degradation, the preservation of “sacred geographies” is crucial to the identity of Hindu traditions. The rise of Hindu Nationalist (Hindutva) political parties (e.g., the BJP) has heavily influenced the mapping of landscape as distinctly Hindu. By analyzing contemporary environmental movements in India and delineating Hindu Nationalist histories and contemporary politics, this project claims environmental work politicizes the landscape in exclusionary and possessive way that shapes environmentalism to prioritize geographical features tied to imagined Hindu pasts and futures.

Keywords:

cultural studies, South Asia, Hinduism, religion, environmental studies, contemporary scholarship, religion and ecology, Hindu nationalist politics, xenophobia, Modi

Notes

Session VII, Panel 21 - Sustainable | Geographies
Moderator: Chie Sakakibara, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

Major

Religion; Environmental Studies

Advisor(s)

Karl Offen, Environmental Studies
Cheryl Cottine, Religion

Project Mentor(s)

Emilia Bachrach, Religion
Corey Barnes, Religion
Margaret Kamitsuka, Religion

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Apr 27th, 5:30 PM Apr 27th, 6:50 PM

Purifying the Sacred: How Hindu Nationalism Reshapes Environmentalism in Contemporary India

King Building 241

The transposition of the cultural, religious, and sacred onto physical geographies is practiced by humans everywhere as landscapes are canvases for meaning making and place holders of histories. In the Indian context, this practice is distinct for several reasons. Scholars of Hinduism recognize that the place-oriented disposition and centrality of land to Hindu religion and culture is unprecedented, and integral to the tradition as well as identity formation in modern India. As India faces increasing environmental degradation, the preservation of “sacred geographies” is crucial to the identity of Hindu traditions. The rise of Hindu Nationalist (Hindutva) political parties (e.g., the BJP) has heavily influenced the mapping of landscape as distinctly Hindu. By analyzing contemporary environmental movements in India and delineating Hindu Nationalist histories and contemporary politics, this project claims environmental work politicizes the landscape in exclusionary and possessive way that shapes environmentalism to prioritize geographical features tied to imagined Hindu pasts and futures.