chapter  7
18 Pages

A Postcolonial Imagination? Westerners Searching for Authenticity in India

WithMari Korpela

This article looks at contemporary Westerners in the Indian city of Varanasi. The

Westerners claim to appreciate authentic India and I argue that this authenticity refers to

India’s ancient, romanticised past instead of its modern present. I investigate how the

Westerners encounter India and Indians and what kinds of subject positions are

constructed in those encounters. The article also discusses how the authenticity becomes

constructed, especially in regard to the Westerners who are studying Indian classical

music in Varanasi. I argue that the Westerners ‘imagine’ India according their own needs

and I ask how their understanding of India and Indian people relates to the ‘colonial

imagination’.