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Denison Journal of Religion

Abstract

“Indian Dalits and Hindutva Strategies” by Seth Schoenhaus, ’18. The author tracks the evolution of India’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party alongside Scheduled Caste (specifically Dalit) self-conception to elucidate the BJP’s strategies to attract Dalit voters, who have historically not been receptive to the BJP’s muscular Hindutva thrust. Importantly, appropriating and recasting the Hindu story of Lord Ram in a nationalist light and engaging in historical revisionism regarding Dalit communal leader B.R. Ambedkar has proven vital in engaging with the Dalit electorate. These methods, combined with lingering sentiments of Sanskritization in many Dalit communities and increasing stratification with higher rates of urbanization, make an already fragile Dalit self-consciousness even more politicized and open to outsider appropriation. The author concludes with a brief examination of the politicizing of Hindu spaces as per the 1992 Ramjanmabhoomi riots and avenues for further inquiry.

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