‘Save Cow, Save India’: Interspecific vulnerabilities in India’s cow protection politics

India criminalises cow slaughter, based on Hindus’ reverence of cows as sacred and a Hindu nationalist imagination of the cow as a Hindu nation. Simultaneously, India is also a leading beef producer. This talk addresses this puzzle by demonstrating how the cow-worshipping, aspirational Hindu state obscures the role of dairying in enabling an industrial scale of underground cow slaughter. Specifically, it highlights the illicit transportation of unwanted dairy cows to slaughterhouses as a key terrain of Hindutva ultranationalism, exploiting the clashing vulnerabilities of the racialized/Hinduised cows used as economic and political capital, and the Dalits and Muslims performing the risky, racialized labour of slaughtering cows. It envisions a post-dairy society, based on an anti-caste, anti-anthropocentric, anti-Hindutva resistance.

Yamini Narayanan is an Associate Professor of International and Community Development at Deakin University, Melbourne. Her new book Mother Cow, Mother India (Stanford University Press, 2023) explores the nexus between dairying and right-wing authoritarianism that underpins India’s cow protection politics. Her work is supported by three Australian Research Council grants. Yamini is currently researching animals in enforced and coercive labour in India’s brick kilns, exploring an anti-anthropocentric politics of poverty. She is a lifelong Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, an honour that is conferred through nomination or invitation only. 

Zoom Details:
Meeting ID: 812 1179 0732
Password: 968025

Date & time

Mon 04 Mar 2024, 3–4pm


Room 3.72, Research School of Social Sciences


Yamini Narayanan


Trang Ta


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