Colonial legacies, post-colonial (in)securities, and gender(ed) representations in South Asia's nuclear policies

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Through a comparative study of India and Pakistan's national security discourses, this article explores the linkages between post-colonial India and Pakistan's nationalist/communalist identities, configurations of masculinities, and gendered representations underpinning their nuclear (in)securities. This paper contends that the colonial politics of place-making in the sub-continent has not only inscribed a process of 'othering' between these states but has also facilitated the rise of divergent visions of post-colonial nationalisms, which, at each of their phases and with particular configurations of masculinities, have used women's bodies to re-map India-Pakistan's borders and national (in)securities. This article particularly draws attention to a new form of gendered manipulation in South Asian politics in the late 1990s, whereby both states, embedded in colonial notions of religious/cultural masculinities, have relied on discourses of Hindu/Indian and Muslim/Pakistani women's violence and protection from the 'other' to pursue aggressive policies of nuclearization. It is at this conjectural moment of a Hinduicized and Islamicized nationalism (flamed by the contestations of a Hindu versus an Islamic masculinity) that one needs to provide a feminist re-interpretation of India-Pakistan's nationalist identities, gendered imaginaries, and their re-articulation of national (in)securities that represents a religious/gendered 'otherness' in South Asia's nuclear policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)717-740
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Identities
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2010

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Gender
  • Nationalism/communalism
  • Nuclear insecurity
  • Representations
  • South Asian politics


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