Overseas friends of the BJP, the web, and the power of the state in the diaspora
In this examination of the web presence of OFBJP.org, I show first how Overseas Friends of BJP fit into expanded definitions and conceptions of nationalism. The modern nation-state is reaching out beyond its territorial boundaries, bringing in migrants in the diaspora and reorienting their gaze back towards India. It is part of a larger strategy built around dominating cyberspace and exercising power over minds instead of bodies. A critical discourse analysis of OFBJP.org shows the priorities of the organization. It is built around recreating the hierarchy of the BJP and playing on migrants’ emotional attachment to India to compel them to donate money and invest in the country in exchange for cultural capital. In doing so, it helps (re)produce a particular vision of India. Meanwhile, its Facebook and Twitter pages seem to be built around communicating the BJP ideology to its own members. It is not necessarily expansionist in the way that other social media projects are, and operates under a philosophy of control that polices what its members write. OFBJP rarely posts about life for Indian-Americans in the United States, and when it does, it is under the rubric of culture, specifically Hindu. The migrants engagement with the political life of India seems to be prized above all else, even as there are indications that there is a willingness to engage with issues in the US. I conclude with a few thoughts on how the Indian state’s use of the internet forces us to reconsider previous notions of both cultural and political nationalism.