Religion and Secularism as Embedded Imaginaries: A Study of Indian Television Narratives
Although studies of television in India have examined the dominant historicist constructions of nation in terms of the discourses of modernization, gender, and right-wing politics, other modes of imagining the nation, particularly through the interplay between secularism and religion, have not been analyzed. Television narratives are an important location for examining religion and secularism as embedded imaginaries, as these are enacted and performed in terms of stories, plots, characters, and characters' life-worlds. Pursuing this line of inquiry is crucial since secularism has increasingly become entangled with religious practices in several non-western societies. Indeed, all major political and religious conflicts in this part of the world have their beginnings in this entanglement. The social sciences and the humanities have ignored religion and typically perceived it as an impediment to modernity. However, the events of the last few years, especially 9/11, the subsequent “global war on terror,” and the rising violence from Darfur to Somalia, underscore the importance of engaging religion. Religious practices and secular principles ought to be brought into a productive dialogue, urgently. This study seeks to engage religion and secularism articulated on Indian television and examines instances of some dialogues that could create, in the words of William Connolly, an ethos of engagement.