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CfP: Bovine Politics and Agrarian Change: Hindutva, Violence and the Indian Cattle Economy
April 1, 2021
Call for Papers: Bovine Politics and Agrarian Change: Hindutva, Violence and the Indian Cattle Economy
Panel organizers: Jostein Jakobsen & Kenneth Bo Nielsen, University of Oslo
Since the coming to power of Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, India has witnessed renewed emphasis on the divisive politics of the cow. The violence and disruptions carried out by Hindutva forces over alleged trespassing of ever-stricter cow protection legislations has attracted international attention. Among its many detrimental consequences, bovine politics in Modi’s India has had an especially hard impact on a key aspect of rural livelihoods: the cattle economy. Indeed, while cattle has historically been crucial in sustaining many rural households, raising, keeping and selling livestock is becoming increasingly precarious and outright dangerous in contemporary India. This has repercussions across agrarian systems of production and reproduction. Beyond the occasional journalistic report that has accompanied the rise in cow vigilantism, however, we still know little about the resulting patterns of agrarian change that are unfolding in rural India. How do smallholder farmers react to the incursions of violent Hindutva politics? How is the cattle economy transforming under the impact of such aggression at different levels of scale?
Against this backdrop, this panel seeks an empirically grounded understanding of the evolving relationships between bovine politics and agrarian change in contemporary India. Contributions should focus on the consequences for one or more “phases” in the process of raising, keeping and selling livestock, and should be based on in-depth field research.