Shedding light on different readings of India
Cecilia Bastos (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)
Paper short abstract:
Analysing the speech of travellers and different narratives presented in several sources which assemble the "mystic" and/or "spiritual" as main elements in their accounts, I investigate the notion of a "spiritual" India based on the idea of the discourse as a social construction.
Paper long abstract:
Aiming to understand how representations of India are socially constructed, I analyse the discourse of travellers and also different narratives presented in several sources (websites, travel newspapers and magazines, books, guidebooks and travel agencies) which assemble the "mystic" and/or "spiritual" as main elements in their accounts. India is typically presented as a place where people can "experience the sacred," where it is possible to "reconnect" or "find oneself;" the attraction being sold is the possibility to have an internal trip, in which there is a possibility to know your "Self" better by experiencing interaction with this spiritual culture. I understand this type of speech to be a sign of the image constructed by social agents who have as their aim the "broadcasting of the Indian culture." As people participate in multiple universes of discourses, they construct diverse partial and simultaneous worlds in which they move; their cultural construction of reality springs from multiple sources, implying discourses can come to mean a myriad of things as they cannot be controlled as they are obviously contested and appropriated when inside public arenas. Accordingly, I investigate the notion of a spiritual India based on the idea of the discourse as a social construction, acknowledging that the constitution of touristic destinations always involves the construction of narratives and representations oriented in its differentiation in a global context of strong competition.