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This Is Enlightenment$
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Clifford Siskin and William Warner

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226761473

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226761466.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 02 July 2022

The Strange Light of Postcolonial Enlightenment

The Strange Light of Postcolonial Enlightenment

Mediatic Form and Publicity in India

(p.209) The Strange Light of Postcolonial Enlightenment
This Is Enlightenment

Arvind Rajagopal

University of Chicago Press

This chapter interrogates the contradictions that befell the Congress Party in the wake of Indian independence in 1947. What happens when concepts and practices associated with Enlightenment—suffrage, freedoms of various kinds, political economy—are not homegrown but imports? When they do not develop gradually but are instituted in one year? Are not expressions of popular sovereignty but the explicitly pursued policy of a state seeking to discipline a people into modernity? The chapter describes the special privilege the Nehru government gives to modern communications, and most especially television and advertising, as channels through which to reach the nonliterate members of the nation and reorganize the sensorium of India. A reading of one television ad for the Times of India, entitled “A Day in the Life of India,” demonstrates the complex mediations entailed in the co-mingling of the promises of Enlightenment, advanced capitalism, and alluring visual displays of wealth, with the knowing skepticism of an indigenous oral Hindu culture.

Keywords:   Indian independence, freedom, political economy, television, advertising, mediations, capitalism, wealth, Hindu culture

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