Tasks, sacrifices and digitized rituals: interpellating the Indian subject through rites of nationalism

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This essay advances the concept of ritualized nationalism in order to understand the rise of right wing populism in India. It analyzes Narendra Modi’s strategy of assigning tasks and seeking sacrifices from citizens in the name of nation building to understand how it has helped make nationalism a pervasive phenomenon that is unprecedented in India’s history. The essay utilizes the theory of rituals to claim that the prescribed formats of Modi’s tasks and assignments allow those actions to be distinct and mark the doer as “nationalists” in the digital domain as opposed to those not participating. This has further helped foster and inculcate a nationalistic subject who emerges from the ritual of completing the assigned tasks and publicizing its evidence on social media as an agent who embodies the jingoistic and muscular form of nationalism prevalent in India today. By showing how this process plays out across a series of assigned tasks and sacrifices during Modi’s era, the essay hopes to both add to explanations about the rise of right wing nationalism in India while also showing that each global iteration of populist nationalism has a distinct trajectory and motivation.


SAGE Publications