Hindutva Hollowing Out
With the rise of right wing Hindu Nationalism (also known as Hindutva) in India and Canada, there has been a marked increase in intimidation, censorship, and hate acts aimed at Canadian artists who are seen as critical of Hindutva. In 2021, Toronto-based Indian filmmaker, poet and actor Leena Manimekalai, who was facing multiple censorship-related court cases in India for her political art and started to experience harassment and death threats in Canada from right-wing Hindutva groups. In subsequent months, it became clear that her experience is emblematic of larger trends in censorship of artists’ works in India and Canada.
In response, a group of artists and cultural workers who wished to deepen their understanding and capacities to address this issue came together. We compiled a cursory reading/watch list to deepen our understanding and fuel our discussion to deal with what we see as a threat to artistic freedom. To add to these texts, we also brought in speakers with a range of political positions to share their experiences of doing this kind of work.