Hindutva Civilizationism in India: Unravelling the Human-Ecological Conditions


  • Alexandra McFadden Lund University


India’s Hindutva movement, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party, has risen to power in the world’s largest democracy and second-most populous country. Various scholars have examined how Hindu nationalism is rooted in civilizational themes; others have examined how ancient Hindu elements are employed in BJP environmental politics. Yet a comprehensive and interdisciplinary conceptualization of civilizationism that places it, firstly, at the heart of Hindutva and, secondly, confronts it as not solely a discursive or thematic tool but as the manifesting of physical control over citizens’ relationships to their material environment is lacking. This means approaching ‘civilization’ in the far right as a human-ecological structure and not only a historical bedrock of ethno-territorial and theocratic power. In order to conceptualize Hindutva civilizationism, I re-examine two well-known cases of Sangh Parivar environmental politics: (1) Hindutva geography and spatial violence; and (2) anti-meat and cow vigilante politics. Beyond serving as a discourse that ignites violence and far-right extremism, I showcase how the sounding board of ‘civilization’ encapsulates the relationship between sociopolitical and environmental far-right objectives, highlighting the ways that far-right civilizationism seeks to define human relationships with natural and built environments. Conceptualizing civilizationism in this way strengthens understandings of how the racial, ethno-national, and religious features of far-right politics are rooted in ecological doctrine that is often based on the social-material features of past ‘civilization’. This supports the primordial significance of civilizationism in far-right ideology beyond only the white supremacist far-right and ‘Western Civilization’.

How to Cite

McFadden, A. (2024). Hindutva Civilizationism in India: Unravelling the Human-Ecological Conditions. Nordia Geographical Publications, 53(1), 83–96. https://doi.org/10.30671/nordia.121459