Cover of The Greater India Experiment by Arkotong Longkumer
The Greater India Experiment
Hindutva and the Northeast
Arkotong Longkumer


December 2020
336 pages.
from $30.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503613461
Paperback ISBN: 9781503614222
Ebook ISBN: 9781503614239

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Longlisted in the 2021 Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize, sponsored by the New India Foundation.

The assertion that even institutions often viewed as abhorrent should be dispassionately understood motivates Arkotong Longkumer's pathbreaking ethnography of the Sangh Parivar, a family of organizations comprising the Hindu right. The Greater India Experiment counters the urge to explain away their ideas and actions as inconsequential by demonstrating their efforts to influence local politics and culture in Northeast India. Longkumer constructs a comprehensive understanding of Hindutva, an idea central to the establishment of a Hindu nation-state, by focusing on the Sangh Parivar's engagement with indigenous peoples in a region that has long resisted the "idea of India." Contextualizing their activities as a Hindutva "experiment" within the broader Indian political and cultural landscape, he ultimately paints a unique picture of the country today.

About the author

Arkotong Longkumer is Senior Lecturer in Modern Asia at the University of Edinburgh, and Senior Research Fellow at the Kohima Institute, Nagaland. He is the co-author of Indigenous Religion(s): Local Grounds, Global Networks (2020), and co-editor of Neo-Hindutva (2019).

"This vivid ethnography of Hindu nationalist militants in Northeast India brings to life an encounter of contrary convictions. It explores how enthusiasts for the idea of a singular Indic identity feel forced to adapt their tactics in a region where this identity is soundly challenged. Subtle and surprising, this extraordinary study is essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary Hindu nationalist politics."

—Willem van Schendel, University of Amsterdam

"Arkotong Longkumer presents readers an original, impressive study on the religious foundations and anxieties of Indian nationalism. This is powerful work that intimately engages with issues of sovereignty, democracy, secularism, and culture in postcolonial India."

—Sanjay Barbora, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

"This is the first book accounting for the rise of Hindutva in India's Northeast. Longkumer's deeply ethnographical approach allows him to painstakingly analyze the modus operandi of the Hindu nationalist activists at the grassroots level in a part of India where ethnic tensions are mounting dangerously."

—Christophe Jaffrelot, CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS and King's College London