Hindu nationalism’s crisis machine

Ravi Sundaram


This essay looks at Hindu nationalism’s investment in a crisis machine linked closely to digital media networks in India. Media infrastructures have provided right-wing populism with new techniques for performative action and network-driven collective expansion. A crisis ontology inherent in digital media has helped Hindu nationalism to optimize techniques of mobilization across time and space. While ambulatory, media-enabled populations are subject to periodic political stimuli, online collective movements are driven by a cluster of Hindu nationalist microcelebrities and regional performers. Hindu nationalist supporters periodically initiate multiple event chains to attract users across digital platforms. What we see is the “eventalization” of time where online populations are drawn into periodic bursts of sustained intensity. In this process, graphic video documents once seen as peripheral to public culture are now periodically occupying center stage in the current political spectacle. Within the space of a few years, Hindu nationalism’s crisis machine has substantially shifted the public culture of the republic.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/712222