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Stereotyping India’s North East: Examining the “Paradise Unexplored” in Tourism Discourse

Somdev Banik

Department of English, Tripura University.

ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-2481-3861. Email somdev@tripurauniv.in

Volume IX, Number 3, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n3.21

Received July 13, 2017; Revised September 11, 2017; Accepted September 15, 2017; Published September 20,  2017.

Abstract

India’s North East had been perceived for decades as a hotbed of insurgency, unrest, backwardness, and buffer against any Chinese aggression. Tourists from India and abroad had consciously avoided this region for years from the perspective of security. To counter this negative perception and promote the brand image of the region, Paradise Unexplored: India’s North East campaign has positioned it as the unspoilt idyll of India. But in doing so, it has constructed the North East as the “other” of India; by reinforcing the myth of difference and remoteness, it has transformed the North East into a living museum of India.  This paper attempts to study the construction of the North-East as an ‘unexplored Paradise’ by analyzing representation of the region in one of the most successful campaigns of Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India, Incredible India campaign. The campaign, while branding India as the transcendental, magical, mesmerizing wonderland, relegates the North-East to the ‘exotic/erotic Unspoilt Other’. Instead of bridging the gap between mainland India and the North East, which had subsisted for decades, it has reaffirmed the age-old perceptions that had been part of the dominant discourse about the region in India.

Keywords:  tourist gaze, representation, exoticization, semiotic analysis, misperceptions

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