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Animal IntimaciesInterspecies Relatedness in India's Central Himalayas$
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Radhika Govindrajan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226559841

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226560045.001.0001

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The Cow Herself Has Changed Hindu Nationalism, Cow Protection, and Bovine Materiality

The Cow Herself Has Changed Hindu Nationalism, Cow Protection, and Bovine Materiality

Chapter:
(p.62) 3 The Cow Herself Has Changed Hindu Nationalism, Cow Protection, and Bovine Materiality
Source:
Animal Intimacies
Author(s):

Radhika Govindrajan

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226560045.003.0003

This chapter examines the effects of recent attempts by right-wing Hindu nationalists to forge, through legislative action as well as vigilante violence, a Hindu community and nation unified by the symbol of the mother cow. The chapter describes how villagers in the mountains viewed such attempts to impose kinship between them and cows at large as an act of coercion. However, such coercive framings of kinship did not go unchallenged; villagers responded to them by imagining alternate forms of relatedness that emphasized a common mountain identity over transcendental Hinduness as the grounds of connection between themselves and their cows. The chapter argues that these alternate forms of relatedness were based in the fact that the distinctive characteristics and tendencies of individual cows were incommensurate with the homogeneous metaphor of the mother cow.

Keywords:   cow-protection, Hindu nationalism, materiality, ordinary ethics, popular Hinduism

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