Media Cultures in India and the South Asian Diaspora

Gillespie, Marie and Cheesman, Tom (2002). Media Cultures in India and the South Asian Diaspora. Routledge, London, U.K..



The present article introduces some of the central themes explored across the contributions to this special issue on media cultures and politics, and sets them in a broader context. Media production, circulation and consumption in South Asia are increasingly central to national and transnational political and cultural processes--religious re-nationalisation and diasporisation in particular. New forms and flows of media serve to legitimate, as well as to contest, economic liberalisation, globalisation, and nuclearisation. Media discourses on cosmopolitanism and communalism are no longer necessarily oppositional, but are increasingly found to be mutually constitutive. Such trends may be explained, in part, as a defensive response to fears of 'cultural invasion' and loss of 'traditional values' associated with the advent of economic liberalisation and satellite television. Central to such developments is the increased targetting and representation of a mobile, global, middle class--but where does this leave the slum dwellers? What will be the socio-political consequences of stimulating an increased desire to consume among those with little or no power to do so? Are the disenchantments of modernity fuelling regressive political affinities? How are the symbols and narratives of religious nationalism woven into the fabric of everyday media? These are central questions for a transnational media study today, which the present special issue begins to address. The hegemony of Indian media in South Asia remains, as does the marginalisation of the many other national and regional cinemas and television cultures. What is clear is that a critical media study must provoke us to question all seemingly fixed boundaries and categories. In view of the communal conflicts in India and Pakistan today, this has never been more urgent.

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