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CSCS - Centre for Study of Culture & Society

Researcher: Janaki Nair, Visiting Fellow, under a grant from the Sephis Programme for South-South Research.

This work hopes to map a historical and cultural geography of Bangalore. This city has of late been identified, even promoted, as among the most hospitable to both the economic and cultural needs of multinational capital in developing economies such as India. Once strongly associated with the state capitalism of the public sector, the city has emerged as a premier site for the location of a largely private Information Technology industry, while simultaneously serving as the symbolic gateway to the burgeoning consumption needs of the Indian middle classes. In other words Bangalore may be taken as an exemplary location for the prodigious expansion of capital into several hitherto uncommodified spaces , representing the processes by which cities serve as a locus of production and as a showcase of the expanded spheres of consumption.

Despite its cosmopolitan profile however, the fortunes of contemporary capitalism in this city have been somewhat precarious. Laying equal claim to this city are the cultural and political forces that had long been imagined as weak or absent but which have served today to shape-- if not define -- the image in which capital builds or restructures its social and cultural spaces. Bangalore therefore exemplifies in very specific ways the twin processes of 'accumulation and struggle' as they mark the transformations of post colonial economies and societies. This study, which focusses simultaneously on economic social and cultural processes that have shaped Bangalore as an urban space, will rely on the insights of urban history, political economy and cultural studies while extending each of their interpretative frameworks.

Researcher: Mathew John, Visiting Fellow, under a grant from Oxfam India.

This project attempts to study emerging languages of 'rights' that are coming to be articulated in terms of culture, and their intersection with law and legality. The discourses of development constituted by and produced within the Indian nation state have been predicated on the category of an unmarked Indian citizen. It was this construction of the citizen that allowed in post independent India, the large scale sacrifice of 'sectional' interest (mainly in irrigation, power and defence projects) in favour of the 'larger interests' of the 'Indian citizen' inhabiting a supposedly homogenous nation. It is against this categorisation of citizen and nation, and against the universalising thrust of development discourses, that various marginalised groupings across the country have posited the specificity of their experiences. This positing has often been articulated through a range of interlocking narratives which can in a sense be called cultural. The claims to culture by various indigenous and marginalised peoples across the country are increasingly also being made in the languages of rights and legality.lt is in this area that the project attempts to situate its significance.

Central to the processes of justice dispensation in modem democracies is the hegemonic presence of law. Faced with the law's participation in the processes of exclusion and expropriation of their life sustaining systems and cultural practices, many marginalised/indigeneous communities have been forced to engage with and respond to hegemonic notions of law and legality. It is these responses to a dominant legality, its appropriation and subversion, as also the construction of alternate and subaltern legalities that form the primary concerns of this project. The project therefore attempts to be a detailed jurisprudential analysis of dominant versions of law and legality which attempts to uncover the ideological content of all supposedly analytical or positivized accounts of law.

Cinema in Andhra 1921-1950 : The Formation of a Public Sphere (1998-2000)
Project Coordinator: S. V. Srinivas

The project looks at how cinema emerged as a public institution. The analysis focusses on the cinema’s initial promise of democracy in its potential availability to everyone—unlike other contemporary media which required significant cultural or economic capital—and the perception of this very potential as a problem by the colonial state and educated Indians. The study maps the specific viewing conditions in cinemas, which ensured the segregation of audiences along the lines of class, caste and gender, onto the cinema’s attempt to constitute a national public through ‘swadeshi’ mythologicals and nationalist melodramas. Sources for this project include colonial and postcolonial government records, writings on cinema by Indians and oral accounts of the conditions and practices of filmviewing. One of the objectives of the project is to put together resource material to facilitate further research in the area.

What has been achieved: A wide range of materials on early cinema in the Andhra region have been identified and some of them collected. Photocopies of film journals and titles of important films on videotape are among the resources now housed at CSCS. Libraries in Vijayawada (Rammohan, Tagore and Bhramarambha Malleswari libraries), Pune (NFAI) Chennai (Roja Muttaiah Research Library) and Calcutta (National Library) were referred to as a part of the exercise. Personal libraries of individuals in Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Gannavaram were accessed. The list of sources and libraries was prepared in consultation with Dr. Lakshmana Reddy, an eminent scholar of Telugu journalism. This list was used by researchers for the Telugu Cinema Workshop.

In addition to accessing printed sources, interviews with carried out with eminent film critics and former actors like Inturi Venkateswara Rao (film critic and the editor of the first film journal in Telugu), Katragadda Narsaiah (former film distributor and well known Telugu film journalist), Turlapati Kutumba Rao (former President of AP Film Fans’ Association and journalist), Mikkilineni Radhakrishna Murthy (former film artiste and author of books on Telugu stage and cinema). Managers and proprietors of cinema halls in Vijayawada were interviewed for details of the history of film exhibition in the city (the earliest permanent cinema hall was built in Vijayawada in 1921). Three papers have been written on the basis of the research carried out for the project. Selcetions of material collected as a part of the project are now a part of the CSCS Media Archive.

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