The Visible and the Invisible in South Asia

Peter Van Der Veer

in Powers

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780823231560
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235537 | DOI:

Series: The Future of the Religious Past

The Visible and the Invisible in South Asia

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This chapter analyzes yet another tool with which religion exerts power in political contexts: constructions of sacred space. It discusses the role of visual imagery involved in “producing the nation-as-space” at a specific border location, the Kargil area in the northwest of India, which borders Pakistan and is a site of dispute and armed conflict. The sheer fact that India tries to control this uninhabitable area shows the importance of the nation-as-space. The Indian language of patriotism used during this conflict includes phrases like “unrelenting courage” and “brave soldiers”, and also demonstrates how the landscape functions as a background for heroism as a representation of the honor and sovereignty of the nation. The Kargil example links up with other constructions of the Indian nation-as-space. Hindu pilgrimage increased the national integration of Hindus and pointed to the geographical unity of India as a sacred space of Hindus.

Keywords: India; Pakistan; nation-as-space; sacred space; religion; power; visual imagery; Kargil; patriotism; pilgrimage

Chapter.  6605 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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