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Storytelling and mediation: the aesthetics of a counter-narrative of atheism in South India


Binder, Stefan (2020). Storytelling and mediation: the aesthetics of a counter-narrative of atheism in South India. In: Johannsen, Dirk; Kirsch, Anja; Kreinath, Jens. Narrative Cultures and the Aesthetics of Religion. Leiden: Brill, 219-245.

Abstract

This chapter examines multimodal and transmedia practices of storytelling among organized atheist activists in South India (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana). Based on the content and structural features of the narratives that atheists produce about their past, namely a story of the cultural distortion and destruction of Indian atheism, they place practices of storytelling and narrative mediation at the center of their secular activism. Thereby, they constitute atheism as a fundamentally narrative phenomenon that gains contour and substance as a counter-narrative within but also in contrast to an already exiting narrative culture. By analyzing a concrete atheist storytelling event, the article retraces how atheist storytelling is grounded in an aesthetic ideology that allows stories, material objects, and the co-presence of atheist bodies to function as media that make atheism perceptible as both present and destroyed. With recourse to Sybille Krämer’s concepts of messengers and traces as two distinct kinds of media, I argue that the aesthetic efficacy of atheist storytelling as a form of narrative worldmaking resides in simultaneously producing messengers of atheism’s presence and traces of its past destruction, which make the atheist counter-narrative not only intellectually believable but also aesthetically concrete and perceptible.

Abstract

This chapter examines multimodal and transmedia practices of storytelling among organized atheist activists in South India (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana). Based on the content and structural features of the narratives that atheists produce about their past, namely a story of the cultural distortion and destruction of Indian atheism, they place practices of storytelling and narrative mediation at the center of their secular activism. Thereby, they constitute atheism as a fundamentally narrative phenomenon that gains contour and substance as a counter-narrative within but also in contrast to an already exiting narrative culture. By analyzing a concrete atheist storytelling event, the article retraces how atheist storytelling is grounded in an aesthetic ideology that allows stories, material objects, and the co-presence of atheist bodies to function as media that make atheism perceptible as both present and destroyed. With recourse to Sybille Krämer’s concepts of messengers and traces as two distinct kinds of media, I argue that the aesthetic efficacy of atheist storytelling as a form of narrative worldmaking resides in simultaneously producing messengers of atheism’s presence and traces of its past destruction, which make the atheist counter-narrative not only intellectually believable but also aesthetically concrete and perceptible.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
Language:English
Date:2020
Deposited On:31 Jan 2021 16:34
Last Modified:31 Jan 2021 16:37
Publisher:Brill
Number:14
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004421677_010
Official URL:https://brill.com/view/title/55797?language=en
Related URLs:https://uzb.swisscovery.slsp.ch/permalink/41SLSP_UZB/rloemb/alma990115690900205508 (Library Catalogue)

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