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A Passage to India: Images of India in U.K/U.S Feature Films from 1930-2000
Unformatted Document Text:  A Passage to India Page 3 of 29 Student Paper studied with respect to language, diet, character role, age, health, occupation, place of residence and class. In trying to understand the theoretical background for such stereotyping, Gallagher (1989) noted that it is usually Third world countries that have to deal with marginalization problems with respect to information flow. There is greater flow of information from the West to Third World countries but very little representation of the Third World countries in Western countries (Mowlana & Wilson, 1990). This imbalance in information flow, the lack of accurate and diverse sources of information and the absence of Indians in the media workforce could be at the root of the problem of misrepresentation of Indian peoples in the West (Shohat & Stam,1994). Historically, the East has been associated with traditional values and the West with dynamism. During the periods of the freedom struggle of Indians against European colonial rule, Europeans portrayed themselves as representing liberty, equality, progress, change and dynamism. India was seen by the West as unhistoric, caught up with traditions – static, inert or in a process of decline. Indians took on upper caste Hindu high culture as their stance. Indian nationalists saw the West as an interruption to their traditions and values of their glorious past. This could explain why India is continuously portrayed in Western narratives as being traditional and backward even after the end of the colonial rule (Narayan, 1997). So far we have looked at stereotypes as if they can only be negative. However, they could also be positive. Positive stereotypes are just as dangerous as negative stereotypes because they still treat all Indians as alike and do not acknowledge the differences amongst a group of people. Positive stereotypes have also been referred to as

Authors: Ramasubramanian, Srividya.
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A Passage to India
Page 3 of 29
Student Paper
studied with respect to language, diet, character role, age, health, occupation, place of
residence and class.
In trying to understand the theoretical background for such stereotyping,
Gallagher (1989) noted that it is usually Third world countries that have to deal with
marginalization problems with respect to information flow. There is greater flow of
information from the West to Third World countries but very little representation of the
Third World countries in Western countries (Mowlana & Wilson, 1990). This imbalance
in information flow, the lack of accurate and diverse sources of information and the
absence of Indians in the media workforce could be at the root of the problem of
misrepresentation of Indian peoples in the West (Shohat & Stam,1994).
Historically, the East has been associated with traditional values and the West
with dynamism. During the periods of the freedom struggle of Indians against European
colonial rule, Europeans portrayed themselves as representing liberty, equality, progress,
change and dynamism. India was seen by the West as unhistoric, caught up with
traditions – static, inert or in a process of decline. Indians took on upper caste Hindu high
culture as their stance. Indian nationalists saw the West as an interruption to their
traditions and values of their glorious past. This could explain why India is continuously
portrayed in Western narratives as being traditional and backward even after the end of
the colonial rule (Narayan, 1997).
So far we have looked at stereotypes as if they can only be negative. However,
they could also be positive. Positive stereotypes are just as dangerous as negative
stereotypes because they still treat all Indians as alike and do not acknowledge the
differences amongst a group of people. Positive stereotypes have also been referred to as


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