Articulation of religious guidelines in the political milieu never takes place in a disembodied form; rather politically inscribed religious discourses are embedded within and conveyed through specific institutional channels, including media organizations and education institutions. My experiences of working as a media educator in villages in Gujarat have helped me understand how the learning of such discriminatory practices begin early as students use various linguistic and socio-cultural cues in order to make sense of the society. A classroom, however, provides the required space to entertain differences such that we can delimit the social hierarchies that are naturalized in the minds of young students through primary socialization. In this paper, I use Critical Media Literacy as a way to redefine classroom as a liminal space and create conditions for emergence of an alterity. Critical Media Literacy (CML) can provide young students with the skills required to upend the dominant discourse of religious violence, to create new narratives from the interstices- from the in-between, and pendulate between the fixed identities subsumed in binaries such as self-other, victim-perpetrator, us-them, and most importantly Hindus-Muslims. In this paper, I attempt to answer two research questions. First, how this dominant rationality of religious hatred is perpetuated through media texts and the socialization process in schools (Bhatia, 2017; Rajagopal, 2001); and how it influences the everyday experiences of young students in two villages in the Sanand tehsil of Ahmedabad district in Gujarat. Second, how can the classrooms be designed as spatial sites to encourage young students to counter their feelings of individualized prejudice and enact resistance. I illustrate how media educators can use CML to design classrooms as a liminal space and help students operate from the margins of the socialization they receive and thus be more open to different regimes of truth practiced in different religious communities.
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Bhatia, K. V. (2018). Mediating Religious Literacy among Primary School children in Gujarat: Classroom as a Liminal Space. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 10(3), 152-170. https://doi.org/10.23860/JMLE-2018-10-3-9