Jostein Jakobsen and Kenneth Bo Nielsen: Bovine meat, authoritarian populism, and state contradictions in Modi's India

Published in Journal of Agrarian Change, 2022.

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While authoritarian populism and its relationship to the rural world have gained analytical prominence recently, few have attempted a systematic exploration of how various authoritarian populisms emerge from, and are embedded within, dynamics of capital accumulation, state, and class struggle. Drawing on Poulantzas' approach to “state contradictions,” we focus on the ways by which bovine meat figures in Narendra Modi's authoritarian populist project in contemporary India. On the one hand, violent authoritarianism in the country uses beef eating as a powerful tool for subjugating subaltern groups to Hindutva rule. On the other hand, the country houses a rapidly expanding beef meat agro-industry, accounting for as much as 20% of global exports and based on corporate concentration around dominant class interests. We argue that this points to state contradictions in Modi's India witnessing strained accumulation patterns. These contradictions, we emphasize, have distinct ramifications for India's classes of labour in the countryside, as certain groups experience what we describe as a process of “double victimization.”

This article is part of a future Special Issue: Populism, Agrarian Movements and Progressive Politics.

View the publication on the publisher's website.


Jostein Jakobsen and Kenneth Bo Nielsen.

Researcher Jostein Jakobsen
Postdoctoral Fellow Jostein Jakobsen
Published June 3, 2022 10:08 AM - Last modified June 3, 2022 10:08 AM