Exotic India? : - A quantitative study of BBC World

University essay from Stockholms universitet/JMK


India has had a complicated and close relationship to Britain for hundreds of years. The nations have been connected both politically and economically. In the colonial times, India was ruled by Britain and had the power to depict the colonies in the way that suited their own interests. According to Edward Said, Orientalism is a discourse that affected the depicturing of Eastern countries, such as India. This depicturing is connected to the unequal power relations between Britain and India, and made it possible for Westerners to create and spread Oriental stereotypes that were racist, sexist and ethnocentric. Today the international relations have changed, and a more global society is growing. To understand if a global news channel, such as BBC World, still depicture India as a distant and exotic other or as a part of the global society, this study looked at how BBC World depictured India in the news videos of online news flow.

By coding over 200 news videos from BBCWorld’s webpage, this quantitative study gives an insight to how India is generally presented on BBC World, in the online news flow 2-3 rd of April, 2015. The coding scheme was based on Said’s definition of Orientalism, and demonstrates how parts of his concept of Orientalism can be operationalized to study Orientalism in a quantitative study. In contrast to Said’s Oriental discourse, the results showed that BBC World depictured people in India as neither exotic nor very distant. However, India was depictured as an up and coming nation with a growing economy, a depicturing which can be connected to Britain’s own national interest in India and the international relations of today. Finally, a question for future discussions is hoisted; is an updated version of Orientalism needed, to capture the growing global society and discourses of today?

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