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For over sixty years the Attari-Wagah checkpoint at the border between India and Pakistan has been a site for the Beating Retreat, a colorful ceremony of lowering the national flags performed jointly by the Indian Border Security Force and the Pakistan Rangers. This emotional ritual is generally perceived as a demonstration of aggressive designs, on the one hand, and as a symbol of goodwill and possible cooperation between neighbouring countries, on the other.

In recent decades visiting/viewing the border (sīmā darśan) has become an essential part of tourist packages for travellers in North-West India, while the notion of ‘patriotic pilgrimage’ has successfully been embedded in the Indian vocabulary (Raj, 2018). The visual component of the Attari-Wagah ceremony is central to performing the border and in building up national identity and patriotism (Schendel, 2007; Menon, 2013; Sheren, 2015; Jeychandran, 2016). No less important for border-making and boosting the visitors’ patriotic mood is the verbal component represented in slogans chanted from both sides (Hindustan zindabad; Bharat Mata ki jai etc. in India; Pakistan zindabad; Nara-e takbir etc. in Pakistan). Spectators take up the slogans and thus become active participants in the performance: by praising respective countries they join explicit and implicit dialogues with fellow participants as well as with the ‘other’ across the border. Drawing on Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of dialogism (Bakhtin, 1986) this paper focuses on the ‘slogan dialogue’ role in the patriotic pilgrimages to the Attari-Wagah border.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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