Indian Culture and Perception: The Zone of Deviance


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Essay #: 055157
Total text length is 9,711 characters (approximately 6.7 pages).

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The beginning:
Indian Culture and Perception: The Zone of Deviance
No act of observation is innocent. In terms of Indian culture, the narratives of Megasthenes, Alberuni, and Marco Polo all demonstrate that observation is laden with theory, and therefore with bias. One interesting proof of the observation-theory conjunction lies in the fact that, despite viewing the same objective evidence, each of the writers listed above reaches a particular conclusion about its meaning based on his own pre-existing cultural biases. Even when there is no obvious cultural antecedent for the claims about India made by these three writers, their observations about the deviance of Indian culture can—and should—be challenged, as they are examples of lazy (at...
The end:
....., India functions as a bête noire for Muslim civilization, a massive catalogue of deviance from Islam; finally, in Marco Polo, the rhetoric of Indian deviance may be more of a tactic to drive up book sales than a genuine engagement with the culture.
The notion of India as a zone of deviance permeates the earliest Indian travelogues, and continues to inform narratives about India today. That India is simply another place is apparently inconceivable to those who insist that India became their other; India simply becomes a screen upon which the fantasies of various visitors can be projected.
Megasthenes. Indika. In R.C. Majumdar & A.D. Pusalker (eds.),
The History and Culture of the Indian People. London: Allen & Unwin, 1952