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Year: 2009 Type: Report Language: English

Television in Bangladesh has captured imaginations across economic, socio-cultural and political boundaries. The paper, presented to 'Pathways: What are we Learning?' Analysis Conference, Cairo, 20-24 January 2009, outlines how women in urban areas engage with television and attach meaning to images and representations that may or may not have been addressed to them. The authors’ aim is to trace how the producers of media envision their desired subjects and the multiple ways in which women receive these images and narratives - at times drawing parallels with their own lives, at other times rejecting their messages, and still often being captivated by illusory worlds that have little resemblance to their own. It is this crossing between reality and fantasy that the television offers that the paper will seek to elaborate. The paper investigates how television, while reflecting values, also reconstitutes them, and how their interplay fashions women’s subjectivities. If television is compelling because it offers a substitute to life, the authors hope to describe what is the substitute that people are seeking. What is it that is offered on television that captures women’s attention and imagination and has such resonance in their lives? The paper seeks to shed light on why depictions on television that reproduce existing power relations are often comforting to women, while at the same time, it transports her to other realms. They attempt to illustrate the pleasures that can be had through television, a site where desires that cannot be had off-screen are experienced and also highlight how women assimilate the aesthetics portrayed on screen into their own lives. Finally, the paper sheds light on whether television viewing opens up new spaces for women (emotionally and psychologically) and if these moments of escape and recognition are crucial to experiencing new realities or whether they simply reinforce the limitations within which women live.