B18 Beaming Romantic Love
Beaming Romantic Love Across the Globe: Images and Media Flows in a Transcultural Context
Coordination: Christiane Brosius
In English-speaking countries, Valentine's Day, celebrated on 14 February of every year, has become an established ritual through which unmarried and
married lovers express their sentiments for each other by sending greeting cards, chocolate and flowers. While the sending of Valentines became a fashion
in Great Britain in the 19th century, the celebration of romantic love and longing by means of this ritual entered non-western countries much later: Japan
(1960s) was followed by China, South Korea, Latin American countries and the Middle East. In India, it arrived around the year 2000 where it immediately
clashed with conservative religio-orthodox and nationalist forces, at the same time, firing the imagination and agitations of young middle class youth in
India's metropolitan centres. Reasons of conflict were manifold: there was the accusation that romantic love and, in particular, their public declaration
in public spaces and mass media was ‚un-Indian' because Indian culture respected the choice of parents and astrologers in arranging marriages. Furthermore,
for heterosexuals to hold hands, and for anyone to kiss in public was coined as ‚abnormal', subversive and ‚immoral'. Another aspect criticised by a
variety of groups (not just Hindu nationalists!) was that Valentine's Day signified another wave of cultural colonisation and means of introducing
hedonistic ideologies and consumer cultures to the Indian market. In 2009, Valentine's Day became the locus of a highly emotional and yet again physically
aggressive debate around values and norms of 'Indian society' versus 'western society'.
The discourse on Valentine's Day in India is highly visual and intermedial. The project addresses the issue of a glocalised imaginary of what 'western' and yet localised lifestyle could mean for a host of social agents. Furthermore, it explores the idea of image itineraries and media shifts across cultural and national boundaries, quite like the Danish Cartoon debate did. Moreover, it raises questions about the relevance of performativity, intervisuality and intermediality with respect to the fabric of the 'transcultural' as it nests in manifold public spheres.
The research project looks at a host of media representations and discourses related to Valentine's Day, as well as qualitative interviews and participatory observation (in 2010 and 2011 in India and Nepal). By this, data for a study of transcultural flows within Asia (mainly Nepal and India) and among South Asian youth in the German diaspora, and to explore the tensions and different dimensions of the transcultural flows of this 'ritual event' as it impacts on notions of youth, adulthood, friendship, family, love and leisure, will be collected.
Two student research assistants have been employed to help collecting data: Tessa Pariyar (M.A.) works in Nepal and Taha Siddiqui supports Brosius in New Delhi.