Online archiving as claims to history:
New media and religious politics in India

by Sahana Udupa

Working Papers WP 14-10
October 2014
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

Full text: pdf

This paper explores the case of right-wing Hindu nationalist volunteers in India, to turn a critical eye on a digital practice that has become prominent on social media in India in recent times – the assembling of facts, figures and treatises as an ideological exercise by the net-savvy ‘non-experts’. Building on ethnographic fieldwork among social media users in urban India, I argue that the practice of online archiving constitutes a distinct politics of history-making, pertinent especially for the varied ways in which online users participate in religious politics. Online archiving for religious politics offers a sobering, and even troubling, picture of the digital commons, and unsettles some of the universalist claims underlying much celebrated user-generated content.

Keywords: Social media, online religious politics, India, Hindu nationalism, online archiving.        

Sahana Udupa is a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen.