Present day India reminds Professor Donald Pease, an American Studies professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, of growing up in a post-World War II America.
“It’s the same sense of energy, social mobility and the buzz of activity,” said Pease before quickly clarifying that he did not mean India was stuck in the past.
Pease pointed out that while American Studies — an inter-disciplinary course — is not widely studied in India, it could act as a crucial bridge between the two cultures.
“The critical comparative dimension was missing from American Studies earlier but US Americanists now want an Indian Americanist perspective within the discipline,” said Pease, who is on his first visit to India for a series of talks in the city and in Hyderabad.
While the earlier American Studies model was born at the time of the Cold War as a veiled form of “propaganda”, the discipline itself has evolved to accommodate different voices.
Pease, who has written several books on American literature and American Studies, compared the kinds of democracy in India and the United States.
“Democracy is more open in India, where it seems possible to occupy different political
positions. In the United States, some positions are not negotiable. For instance, someone might be pre-constructed as a ‘terrorist’,” Pease said.