International Institute for Asian Studies


Modern South Asia Seminar Series

Becoming Global Hindus. Hindu Nationalist Training Camps and the Indian Diaspora.

A presentation by Dr Edward Anderson (University of Cambridge). This talk is followed by drinks.

In recent years the influence of Hindu nationalism amongst India’s substantial diaspora has garnered increasing attention. Hindutva ideology and organisations – which have developed transnationally since the mid-twentieth century – both influence Indians overseas, and in turn produce spaces for the diaspora to engage with the homeland. This paper will consider an important but under-researched aspect of this relationship: Hindu nationalist training camps. These have played a key role in the growth of the Hindu nationalist movement in India. But overseas, they perform specific functions for diaspora populations, and have developed innovative, syncretic new forms.

This paper will explore how camps have special resonance for the diaspora, reifying communities and deepening attachment not only to the movement, but also particular conceptions of Indian and Hindu identity. They are steeped in symbolism and affect; enactments of unity, strength, and connectivity to the homeland. Through a mix of clandestine and profile-raising elements, diasporic camps provide opportunities for interactions with Hindu nationalist leaders and wider publics. The paper argues that camps constitute a striking example of how transnational networks are established and developed.

Dr Edward Anderson is the Smuts Research Fellow in Commonwealth Studies at the Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge. He is also a Teaching Associate at the Department of Politics and International Studies, and a Postdoctoral Affiliate at Trinity College. Dr Anderson’s research relates to Indian politics and contemporary history, diasporas and migration, transnational networks, multiculturalism, and the politics of the Indian diaspora.