The Hindu Right-Wing movement, a widespread project of cultural and religious nationalism that currently also holds parliamentary power in India, has gained political momentum in the last few decades, drawing within its ranks women who not only embody its exclusionary and violent politics but who also simultaneously contest everyday patriarchies. Based on extensive ethnographic and narrative research in India, in this paper and talk, I present a feminist analysis of the project. I foreground the intersectional dynamics of gender, sexuality, race, religion, class, and caste to argue that through a politics of the everyday, right-wing women bargain and negotiate with patriarchal communities/homes, male-formulated ideologies and discourses, and male-dominated right-wing projects and spaces. These mediations replicate and affirm as well as subvert and challenge patriarchal structures and power hierarchies, troubling the binaries of home/world, private/public, personal/political, and victim/agent. Examining the politics and violence of this 'sisterhood' allows us to understand the intimate workings of right-wing projects and their global constellations.
Dr Akanksha Mehta is a Lecturer in Gender, Sexuality and Cultural Studies at the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies and the co-director of the Centre for Feminist Research at Goldsmiths, University of London. She teaches modules that explore feminist, queer, postcolonial, and decolonial knowledge productions on empire, nation, violence, and everyday politics. Her recent research ('Right-Wing Sisterhood') used ethnography, narrative writing, and visual practice to examine the everyday politics and violence of Hindu Nationalist women in India and Israeli Zionist settlers in Palestine. She is transforming this work into a monograph and is also a photographer.