Social Policy & Administration

No Room for Dissent: Domesticating WhatsApp, Digital Private Spaces, and Lived Democracy in India

Domesticating WhatsApp, Digital Private Spaces

This study shows how the Hindu right uses WhatsApp to digitise new party-political intimacies.


Lipika Kamra, Associate Professor, Jindal School of Liberal Arts & Humanities, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.

Philippa Williams, School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.

Pushpendra Johar, Independent researcher.

Fatma Matin Khan, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

Mukesh Kumar, South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany.

Ekta Oza, School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.


WhatsApp and digital private spaces are transforming the quality of lived democracy in India today. Bringing together STS, geographies of democracy, digital and political anthropology, and feminist approaches to the home, this paper makes visible how the Silicon Valley imaginary of the “digital living room” is domesticated in India. 

Drawing on digital ethnographic research in urban north India, the researchers show how WhatsApp is being used by the Hindu right to digitise new party-political intimacies. This has implications for how people at the margins of Hindu nationalist politics dwell in the “digital living room”. 

Framed as a home like space, the researchers problematise Facebook’s “spatiotechnical” utopia by making visible how kinship and (domestic) politics are newly entangled in digital private spaces. Finally, we document how WhatsApp is deployed as a technology of discipline to determine modes of appropriate sociality and reconfigure spaces of digital-physical inclusion/exclusion in the making of India’s “ethnic democracy”.

Published in: Antopode: A Radical Journal of Geography

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