Oh My God!

In some ways it is not simple to understand how fundamentalists (of any religion) manage to gain such large followings... They are hardly an attractive lot, with ideologies that are patently absurd for the most part. And yet, by combining nationalistic ideals with religion- be it the Taliban or the BJP- they do manage to attract a large section of the population.

What is going on in Kandhamal is more than just shocking. And analysing this and related issues like the barbaric killing of the Staines family is Three Essays' latest book, Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India's Present; Narratives from Orissa by Angana P. Chatterji.

"This book is an erudite and elegiac exploration of Hindu nationalism in India today. It offers a revealing account of Hindu militant mobilizations as an authoritarian movement manifest throughout culture, polity, and economy, religion and law, class and caste, on gender, body, land, and memory. Tracing the continuities between Hindutva and Hindu cultural dominance, this book maps the architectures of civic and despotic governmentalities contouring Hindu nationalism in public, domestic, and everyday life. In chronicling concerted action against Christians and Muslims, Adivasis and Dalits, through spectacles, events, public executions, the riots in Kandhamal of December 2007 and August-September 2008, the planned, methodical politics of terror unfolds in its multiple registers. "

Chatterji is associate professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Her work spans issues of cultural survival, nationalisms, gendered violence, and postcolonial critique. In this book she "asks critical questions of nation making, cultural nationalism, and subaltern disenfranchisement. As a Foucauldian history of the present, this text asserts the role of ethical knowledge production as counter-memory."

Understanding evil is never quite easy. In our Religion section. And Sociology. Hardcover, xvi+ 470 pages, Rs 800, ISBN: 9788188789450.

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