Postgraduate Course: Keywords in South Asian Public Culture (PGSP11290)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course aims to provide students with a solid understanding of important contemporary debates in the study of South Asian public culture. Introducing key themes through critical and current ethnographic work, this course focuses on the tangible public forms that global cultural flows, political economies and social formations take. This emphasis on contemporary public culture allows a concrete consideration of abstract and changing social and cultural forces that define the region.
The course will be informed by the existing concerns in the anthropology of South Asia but focuses on areas largely neglected by it. Inspired by Raymond Williams' 'keywords' approach to culture and society, this course examines the subcontinent from unexpected and innovative angles by gathering key ethnographic readings under conceptual keywords to be explored empirically and theoretically. The course will approach the region as an integrated socio-cultural whole, rather than a set of self-contained nation-states.
The postgraduate component will require students to engage in-depth with selected key texts, both theoretical investigations and empirical studies, and to reflect on the relevance of these for their own dissertation research.
The introductory lecture sets out Raymond Williams' keywords approach and weds this to the founding texts by Appadurai and Breckenridge of the journal Public Culture. What is public culture and why is it at the heart of contemporary ethnographic approaches to South Asia?
What are the public cultural resources out of which leadership is fashioned and challenged? How is sovereignty produced and challenged? What does politics look like in Technicolor?
South Asian cities provide a conceptual challenge to many of our most cherished social scientific categories. What is the place of the city in contemporary South Asia and how do megapoles relate to villages and small towns, so crucial to nationalist imaginings across South Asia? Of what is the urban experience fashioned?
The promise of a Digital Bangladesh, the working of E-governance in India and the mimicry of drones above Pakistan set out the digital as a complex domain of aspiration, control and materiality. What does the digital mean in the context of South Asian public culture?
Sex and sexuality have largely been described as a site where struggles unfolding elsewhere have come to be projected. Sexuality as a site of ethnographic research brings out the irreducible aspects of sexual affectivities in the public sphere. How can sexuality be rethought beyond a colonial trope for control?
How does violence as a repertoire found institutions as the state, as well as provide the most affective trope for its interrogation? What is the place and work of public death in South Asia?
Process of authentication and practices of fakery define a complex terrain of South Asian public life. From questions about the 'true' nature of structures in Ayodhya, the veracity of Bangladeshi democracy or the originality of Bollywood plots, the question of authenticity sits at the heart of a range of politically volatile contestations in South Asia.
What is the nature of 'display' in the production of collectivities? How does the circulation of images and the circulation of people along displays instatiate communities and conflicts? How are the senses caught up in these displays and interwoven with socio-cultural forms?
What is the stuff of public culture? What does a materialist analysis add beyond economic considerations? What is the infrastructural bliss and despair that fuels people's love and hate for roads, housing projects, dams, dresses and shrines? How are these material objects caught up in everyday experiences of governmental logics, affective dispositions and awe?
What is neoliberalism as a domain of public culture? Where beyond the planners books do the new and not-so-new economic logics of neoliberalism make themselves felt? What are the rhetorics and practices of trade, profit and loss that accompany the rise of the Indian economy and the continuation of rougue capitalism across the region?
Student Learning Experience:
The course involves one two-hour lecture a week for the whole class, together with small group support teaching in a separate one-hour tutorial session.
The 'small group' support teaching (tutorials) will normally be concerned with one or more readings that illustrate, underpin or extend issues raised in the main sessions. Students should note that participation in the small group support teaching sessions is compulsory.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 20,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Students will be assessed by two pieces of writing. The first piece of writing, due around week 6 will be a short 1,500 word essay in which students will be asked to find and discuss a piece of South Asian public culture (images from Tasveer Ghar, articles from Tehelka, a South Asian film or magazine for example) and analyse this in an effective and accessible manner. This piece of work emphasises creative scholarly work and will look at innovative analysis, accessible writing and creative thinking.
The second piece of assessment is a more formal 4,000 word essay on a topic addressing key debates in the anthropology of South Asia and South Asian public culture, and agreed with the course convenor. This may concern either a general approach to the theorisation of a particular theme or debate, or their investigation in a particular regional context. Students will be expected to show initiative in going beyond the set readings for the course. The development of bibliographic and literature skills will be emphasised.
||Formative assessment: the course organiser will give feedback on tutorial presentations so you can learn what is expected. You may also submit an essay plan for comment. Formative feedback will also be provided on the first piece of coursework.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- thoroughly and critically understand key debates in the anthropology of South Asia and South Asian public culture and synthesise these and new developments in the field.
- have a solid grip on sophisticated theoretical approaches to South Asian ethnography and be familiar with its main themes, theories and principles.
- understand how important anthropological themes crystallize in contemporary ethnographic explorations of the region.
- approach South Asia theoretically and empirically as an integrated socio-cultural and historical space, rather than as made up of radically separated nation-states.
- critically reflect on and write about South Asian ethnography and popular culture
|Appadurai, Arjun and Carol A. Breckenridge. 1988a. Editor's Comment. Public Culture 1(1): 1-4.|
--,--. 1988b. Why Public Culture? Public Culture 1(1): 5-9.
Mazzarella, William. 2005. Public Culture, Still. Biblio: A Review of Books (Special Issue), X (9-10), Sept.-Oct.
Williams, Raymond. 2010 . Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. London: Fontana Press
Dadi, Iftekar. 2007. Political Posters in Karachi 1988-1999. South Asian Popular Culture 5(1): 11 - 30.
Dickey, Sara. 1993. The Politics of Adulation: Cinema and the Production of Politicians in South India. The Journal of Asian Studies 52(2): 340-372.
Hansen, T. B. 2005. Sovereigns beyond the State: Authority and Legality in Urban India. In T.B. Hansen and F. Stepputat (eds.). Sovereign Bodies. Citizens, Migrants and States in the Postcolonial World. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Rushdie, Salman. 2006 . Shame. London: Vintage.
Tarlo, Emma. 2003. Unsettling Memories: Narratives of the Emergency in Delhi. London: Hurst.
Ali, Kamran Asdar. 2005 Strength of the State meets the Strength of the Street: The 1972 labor struggle in Karachi. International Journal of Middle East Studies 37: 83-107.
Coleman, Leo. 2009. Being Alone Together: From Solidarity to Solitude in Urban Anthropology. Anthropological Quarterly 82(3): 755-777.
Ghassem-Fachandi, Parvis. 2008. Bridge over the Sabarmati: An Urban Journey into Violence and Back. Journeys: The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing 9(1): 68-94.
Hansen, Thomas Blom and Oskar Verkaaik. 2009. Urban Charisma: On Everyday Mythologies of the City. Critique of Anthropology 29(5): 5-26.
Kaviraj, Sudipta, 1997. Filth and the Public Sphere: Concepts and Practices about Public Space in Calcutta. Public Culture 10(1): 83-113.
Ramaswami, Shankar. 2007. Togethering Contra Othering: Male Hindu-Muslim inter-relations in proletarian Delhi. South Asian Popular Culture 5(2): 117 - 128.
Exel, Brian. 2005. Diasporic sublime: Sikh martyrs, Internet mediations, and the question of the unimaginable. Sikh Formations 1(1): 127-154.
Fuller, C. J. and Haripriya Narasimhan. 2007. Information Technology Professionals and the New-Rich Middle Class in Chennai (Madras) Modern Asian Studies 41, 1, pp. 121-150.
Mazzarella, William. 2006. Internet X-Ray: E-Governance, Transparency, and the Politics of Immediation in India. Public Culture 18(3): 472-505.
Sundaram, Ravi. 2009. Pirate Modernity: Delhi's Media Urbanism. London: Routledge.
Ali, Kamran Asdar. 2004. Pulp Fictions: Reading Pakistani Domesticity. Social Text 78: 123-145.
Cohen, Lawrence. 1995. The Pleasures of Castration: the Postoperative Status of Hijras, Jankhas, and Academics, in Sexual Nature, Sexual Culture, P. Abramson and S. Pinkerton, eds. pp. 276-304. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hoek, Lotte. 2010. Unstable Celluloid: Film Projection and the Cinema Audience in Bangladesh. BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies 1(1): 49-66.
Macmillan.Mody, Perveez. 2002. Love and the Law: Love-Marriage in Delhi. Modern Asian Studies 36(1): 223-256.
Srivastava, Sanjay. 2007. Passionate Modernity: Sexuality, Class and Consumption in India. New Delhi: Routledge.
Verkaaik, Oskar. 2004. Migrants and Militants: Fun and Urban Violence in Pakistan. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Chatterjee, Partha. 1999. Modernity, Democracy and a Political Negotiation of Death South Asia Research; 19; 103.
Staples, James. 2003. Disguise, Revelation and Copyright. Disassembling the South Indian Leper. J. Roy. anthrop. Inst 9, 295-315.
Guha-Thakurta, Tapati . 2007. 'Our Gods, Their Museums': The Contrary Careers of India's Art Objects. Art History 30(4): 628-657.
Vikram Chandra. 2000. The Cult of Authenticity. Boston Review (February/March): 42-49.
Pratt Ewing, Katherine. 2007. Arguing Sainthood: Modernity, Psychoanalysis, and Islam. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Freitag, Sandria B. 2001. Visions of the Nation: Theorizing the Nexus between Creation, Consumption, and Participation in the Public Sphere. In Rachel Dwyer and Christopher Pinney (eds.). Pleasure and the Nation: The History, Politics and Consumption of Public Culture in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Pp. 35-75.
Guha-Thakurta, Tapati. 2004. Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in
Colonial and Postcolonial India. New York: Columbia University Press.
Jain, Kajri. 2007. Gods in the Bazaar: The Economy of Indian Calandar Art. Durham:
Duke University Press.
Mookherjee, Nayanika. 2007. The "Dead and Their Double Duties": Mourning, Melancholia, and the Martyred Intellectual Memorials in Bangladesh. Space and Culture 10(2): 271-291.
Khan, Naveeda. 2006. Flaws in the flow: Roads and their modernity in Pakistan. Social Text 89: 87-113.
Hewamanne, Sandhya. 2003. Performing 'Dis-respectability': New Tastes, Cultural Practices, and Identity Performances by Sri Lanka's Free Trade Zone Garment-Factory Workers. Cultural Dynamics 15(1): 71-101.
Landell-Mills, Samuel, "The Hardware of Sanctity: Anthropomorphic objects in Bangladeshi Sufism", in Pnina Werbner and Helene Basu (eds.), Embodying Charisma: Modernity, locality and the performance of emotion in Sufi cults, London and New York: Routledge, 1998, pp. 31-54.
Peabody, Norbert. 1991. In Whose Turban Does the Lord Reside?: The Objectification of Charisma and the Fetishism of Objects in the Hindu Kingdom of Kota. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 33, 4, pp. 726-754.
Gardner, Katie. 1995. Global migrants, local lives: travel and transformation in rural Bangladesh. Oxford: OUP.
Liechty, Mark. 2002. Suitably Modern: Making Middle Class Culture in a New Consumer Society, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Osella, F and Osella C. 2000. Migration, Money and Masculinity in Kerala. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 6(1): 117-133.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Jacob Copeman
Tel: (0131 6)50 6860
|Course secretary||Mr Jack Smith
Tel: (0131 6)51 1485