Thursday, April 20, 2006

Fri 21 April CULTURAL STUDIES OF INDIA AND THE INDIAN DIASPORA: A SYMPOSIUM

On the occasion of distinguished scholar Dr. Veena Naregal of theInstitute of Economic Growth (Delhi)'s visit to Goldsmiths, we are pleased to present an afternoon symposium on cultural studies of India and theIndian Diaspora. PACSF has long wanted to extend its geographic scope beyond East and Southeast Asia, and we are pleased to present this first event focused on South Asia

Venue: The Small Hall, Goldsmiths College, New Cross, London SE14 6NWTime: 1p.m, 21 April 2006-03-31

Veena Naregal
Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi
Re-forming Film Finance and Distribution : State Agendas andPopular Culture in India

As a cultural institution, Indian cinema encompasses many paradoxes. Onesuch is the gulf that separates the avid cinephilia of Indian audiencesand the largely disapproving biases against the film industry uponwhich the post-Independence Indian film policy has been founded.Arguably the mainstay of a national cultural mainstream, Indiancommercial cinema has survived, since the late 1940s, mainly throughexploiting surplus merchant capital available through parallel moneymarkets. These links between media industries and the informalsector -- between 'kala paisa' ['black' money] and 'phillum dhandha'[film business] -- have long been part of film industry lore. Forunderstandable reasons, however, such 'disreputable' linkages haveremained un-investigated or theorized. And yet, the expansion of Indianmedia audiences, first in the late 1980s, and later through thegrowth of cable and satellite television networks since themid-1990s, have only further accentuated these links between theinformal sector, film production and media distribution.Whereas up until recently, the Indian state seemed concerned to engagewith the film business primarily as tax-collector and censor, thepost-reforms period has seen a visible change in the state'sperceptions of Indian movies and film industry. In December 1998, thegovernment conceded the long-standing demand to confer the status ofan industry on the film business, and has since initiated various movesto encourage state and corporate financial institutions to invest infilm production and other aspects of the film business.So how do we understand these evolving trends? Do they indeed signify amajor shift in relations between the Indian film industry, state andmarket? This presentation aims to open up a discussion around some ofthese important issues and explore their links to other trends suchas shifts in audiences tastes and emerging markets for Indian mediaproducts.


Meeta Rani Jha
PhD Student, Goldsmiths College, Sociology Department, University of London

From Mother India to Miss Universe: The New Morality of the Self-fashioned body

The shift from the Mother India to Miss Universe feminine icon articulatesdramatic changes taking place in Indian economic and cultural life due toeconomic liberalization. The changes in the representations of women from'Mother India' to 'Miss Universe' is a dramatic change because the firstfocused on a struggle for existence and transcendence throughself-sacrifice while the latter prioritizes a femininity focusing only onthe exterior of the body and on physical beauty. Female autonomy andliberation comes to rest not on her access to an independent life (accessto employment, sexuality and life choices) but in her ability to imitate afemininity based on white beauty ethics.This article scrutinizes the key role of body as a site of British Asianpopular cultural expression and contestations in the practices of Bombaycinema viewing through an analysis of semi-structured interviews. Therespondents explained their criticisms of the newer heroines in terms ofregulation, homogenization, superficiality, and a lack of individuality.I argue that the filmmakers have failed to understand the complex andenmeshed relations of class, religion, gender and race in the subjectivityof the British Asian audience. The new morality of the self-mastered whitebody produces self-castigation and shame in respondents' articulations.The British Asian subjects are not globally mobile and certainly not aswest aspiring as the Indian urban elite. They are living in the belly ofthe Imperial beast and their anti-racist and decolonizing imaginary iswhat maintains the boundary of their identity even as it plays with itsWestern and Asian subjectivities, disavowing and authorizing one foranother depending on the situation and the context.


Menaka PP Bora
Doctoral Student, Department of Media & Communications

Visible and Invisible Borders: The politics of the 'national' (and) the'regional' identity in Indian contemporary music and cultural identity ofglobalizing India.

This paper is an interdisciplinary investigation of the relationshipbetween Indian contemporary musics and politics of the national and theregional cultural identity in metropolitan India from 1990s onwards. Theemergence of a homogenized global music culture on television, Internetand 'world music' in middle class India as a result of economicliberalization of 1990s has contributed to an awareness of a new visualculture in music and identity among influential music makers. I argue thatin the late 1990s Indian contemporary music making processes leadingtowards experimental fusion music suggest a growing trend of dualengagement with art music traditions and 'selective adoption' of Westernmodernity among music makers. These creative processes are not onlyconditioned through the complex co-existence of 'regional' and 'national'cultural identities within India but also through accessibility of'global' cultural forms and ideas. The 'national' identity in thearticulation of contemporary 'Indianness' contains critical sites ofstruggle with the growth of pan-Indian nationalisms or 'regionalisms' inlate 1990s. Drawing on, among others, British and Indian cultural studiesdisciplines such as works of Stuart Hall on cultural identity (1996) andG. N. Devy's Desivad (Nativism), I will elucidate the identity politicsassociated with the 'regional' and the 'national' cultural identity andthen analyze how and why it is necessary to discuss the socio-politicaldebates around 'Indianness' with cultural identity of Indian contemporarymusics. The methodology involves qualitative research methods in terms ofgrounded theory, primary interviews and textual analysis. The casestudies include musicians, critics, musicologists, music producers andglobal music television channels in India.


Atticus Narain
Doctoral student, Department of Anthropology

Hindi Cinema: a Guyanese perspective.

Indo-Guyanese watch Hindi films as if their very existence depended uponit, and in terms of identity it does. This thesis examines one of themajor sources of cultural renewal among the East Indians of Guyana:products of the Indian film industry. While Hindi films cater to diverseinternational audiences, there are few studies that examine how such filmsframe the expectations of audiences - as in the Guyanese case - for whichthese films are the primary sources of cultural confirmation. Much thoughHindi films provide a moralistic caricature of Indian mores, theyauthenticate a notion of 'Indianness' for Guyanese long severed fromdirect contact with the sub-continent. In the context of persistent ethnichostility between Afro-Guyanese and Indo-Guyanese, Indian films denote acultural 'intactness' that links East Indians to what Anderson hasidentified, in his widely cited phrase, an 'imagined community'. Between1838 to 1917 two hundred thousand Indians were transported as indenturedlaborers to Guyana where they became a significant population in thisAfro-Caribbean state. I will explore ways in which this enclave groupcontinues to maintain an Indian identity despite the absence of continualrenewal of links once afforded by migration. Guyana - still overwhelminglyagrarian - presents an interesting case in which the (ex-) colonialantagonists (African and East Indians) operate within a space largelyvacated by the British agents of colonialism.

ALL WELCOME.

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