Our Work – Publication by PhD candidate Akanksha Mehta
PhD candidate Akanksha Mehta wrote an article titled, The aesthetics of “everyday” violence: narratives of violence and Hindu right-wing women, for a special issue of Critical Studies of Terrorism on Everyday Violence.
“Right-wing” movements see significant participation by women who espouse their exclusionary and violent politics while at the same time often contest their patriarchal spaces. Women also serve as discursive and symbolic markers that regularly form the basis of the rhetoric, ideology, actions and policies of the right-wing. However, even as women’s roles and politics within the right-wing remain diverse and important, dominant feminist scholarship has had uneasy encounters with right-wing women, labelling them as monolithic pawns/victims/subjects of patriarchy with limited or no agency. This article aims to question this notion by examining the aesthetics and visual and oral imagery appropriated, (re)constructed, transformed and mediated by right-wing women. Based on ethnographic and visual research conducted in 2013–2014 with women in the cultural nationalist Hindu right-wing project in India, I argue that right-wing women use a variety of visual and oral narratives (from images to storytelling) to negotiate with spatialities and carve out independent “feminine” discourses within the larger language of the right-wing. I also argue that these narratives are “ritualised” and performed in various spaces and styles and remain crucial to the “everyday” politics and violence of right-wing women. The “everyday” politics of right-wing women often contest, subvert and bargain with the patriarchal goals of the larger projects, rendering narratives as sites of examining agency. Using specific examples of visual and oral narratives from the aforementioned movement, this article articulates how everyday violence is shaped by the aesthetics of the nation and the body, and how these aesthetics shape everyday violence.