SENKU seminar with Kathinka Frøystad: Hindu India against itself? Lessons from a mobile fieldwork
India’s ongoing transition from Congress-style secularism to self-assertive Hindu Nationalism since 2014 follows in the footsteps of several other large-scale transitions, including the shift from Nehruvian socialism and the push for more egalitarian gender roles. As many anthropologists have noted, the dissonances created by such profound changes are frequently dealt with by engaging supernatural forces. This is also the case in India, where the supernatural engagement with such dissonances often make people cross official religious boundaries in pursuit of divine interventions that can combine efficacy with discretion. The paradoxical outcome is that many contemporary supporters of the Hindu nationalist movement continue to mitigate personal crises by turning to non-Hindu religious traditions. In certain ways the New Hindu India thus appears to work against itself. This talk will exemplify this double movement, the study of which requires a people-centred fieldwork strategy that involves considerable walking, driving and other forms of mobility across the multi-religious landscape.
Kathinka Frøystad is a social anthropologist and Professor of Modern South Asian Studies at the University of Oslo. Specializing on religious complexity, Frøystad is particularly interested in the kind of religious practices that have cohesive rather than polarizing effects.