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India through re-Orientalist Lenses

Lau; Mendes, AC

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Authors

AC Mendes



Abstract

Re-Orientalism, initially defined as the perpetration of Orientalism by ‘Orientals’ (Lau 2009), is a discourse which comes out of and is inescapably informed by postcolonial and diasporic legacies. The investigation of re-Orientalism has revealed new, even radical strategies of eastern identity construction which, while not escaping Orientalism, manage to Orientalize subversively and with considerable self-awareness. This essay highlights two strategies currently being utilized in the negotiation of contemporary Indian self-identity: vicarious indulgence in poverty literature and vicarious redemption in Bollywood heritage films. The first part of the essay notes how the discourse of ‘Dark India’ via Indian writing in English (IWE) has become not only a re-Orientalist practice, but also most relevantly a re-Orientalist strategy, designed to challenge and deconstruct the rhetoric of ‘India Shining’ and to consciously pander to a western appetite for voyeuristic viewings of India as backward, poverty stricken and crime ridden. The second part of the essay argues that the reweaving of the independence struggle within post-2000 Bollywood heritage films (BHF) vicariously redeems British colonialists by representing white British characters facilitating Indian gallantry and heroism, thus constructing hybrid and more palatable depictions of Indian identities. In sum, the essay finds re-Orientalist discourse today increasingly and strategically utilizing elements of self-reflexivity and demonstrating new tones and themes of satire, subversion, self-mockery, reconciliation and artistic indulgence.

Acceptance Date Dec 1, 2014
Publication Date Dec 1, 2014
Journal Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies
Print ISSN 1369-801X
Publisher Routledge
Pages 706-727
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/1369801x.2014.984619
Keywords Bollywood heritage films (BHF), Indian writing in English (IWE), re-Orientalism, vicarious indulgence, vicarious redemption
Publisher URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369801x.2014.984619

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