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Rina Verma Williams, "Marginalized, Mobilized, Incorporated: Women and Religious Nationalism in Indian Democracy" (Oxford UP, 2023)

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How has the participation of women in Hindu nationalist politics in India changed over time? More broadly, what has their changing participation meant for women, Hindu nationalism, and Indian democracy?

In Marginalized, Mobilized, Incorporated: Women and Religious Nationalism in Indian Democracy (Oxford UP, 2023), Rina Verma Williams places women's participation in religious politics in India into historical and comparative perspective through a focus on the most important Hindu nationalist political parties in modern Indian history: the All-India Hindu Mahasabha (HMS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She compares three critical periods to show the increasing involvement of women in Hindu nationalist politics over time. In its formative years in the early 1900s, the HMS marginalized women; in the 1980s, the BJP began to mobilize them; and in the contemporary period, as the BJP returned to power in 2014, it has incorporated women into its structures and activities. Williams contends that the incorporation of women into Hindu nationalist politics has significantly advanced the BJP's electoral success compared to prior periods when women were either marginalized or mobilized in more limited ways. Given that the BJP is one of the most dynamic religious/ethno-nationalist parties in the world at present, Williams' account of how it incorporated masses of women into its coalition is essential reading for scholars and students interested not just in India, but in the relationship between gender and right-wing populist politics globally.

Yash Sharma is a PhD student in Political Science at the School of Public and International Affairs, University of Cincinnati. His research is focused on the interactions of political mobilization and anti-minority violence within Hindu nationalist organizations in India. Twitter. Email: sharmaym@mail.uc.edu

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How has the participation of women in Hindu nationalist politics in India changed over time? More broadly, what has their changing participation meant for women, Hindu nationalism, and Indian democracy?

In Marginalized, Mobilized, Incorporated: Women and Religious Nationalism in Indian Democracy (Oxford UP, 2023), Rina Verma Williams places women's participation in religious politics in India into historical and comparative perspective through a focus on the most important Hindu nationalist political parties in modern Indian history: the All-India Hindu Mahasabha (HMS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She compares three critical periods to show the increasing involvement of women in Hindu nationalist politics over time. In its formative years in the early 1900s, the HMS marginalized women; in the 1980s, the BJP began to mobilize them; and in the contemporary period, as the BJP returned to power in 2014, it has incorporated women into its structures and activities. Williams contends that the incorporation of women into Hindu nationalist politics has significantly advanced the BJP's electoral success compared to prior periods when women were either marginalized or mobilized in more limited ways. Given that the BJP is one of the most dynamic religious/ethno-nationalist parties in the world at present, Williams' account of how it incorporated masses of women into its coalition is essential reading for scholars and students interested not just in India, but in the relationship between gender and right-wing populist politics globally.

Yash Sharma is a PhD student in Political Science at the School of Public and International Affairs, University of Cincinnati. His research is focused on the interactions of political mobilization and anti-minority violence within Hindu nationalist organizations in India. Twitter. Email: sharmaym@mail.uc.edu

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