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Populist Publics: Print Capitalism and Embodied Politics in South India

Thursday, January 30, 2014
12:00 AM
210 West Hall

Co-sponsors: Museum of Anthropology; Department of Anthropology

Abstract: Some concept of mass publicity is foundational for a number of theories of democratic self-determination, but the subject of publicity is radically dependent on technologies of representation for its own self-identity. Research on newspapers and the public sphere is valuable because it has focused on this paradox of mediation at the center of modern political life. Whereas liberal theories of the public sphere had sought to distinguish a rational reading public forged through a dialectic self-abstraction from what Habermas once termed “pressure from the street,” recent work on the politics of the crowd and that of the reading public reveals a closer relationship. Drawing on research about the history of print capitalism in southern India, this presentation has two aims:

  1. To develop a framework for understanding how newspapers and political discourse circulate to produce embodied subjects of mass mediated publicity, and
  2. To come to theoretical terms with a democratic public sphere where physical force is deeply intertwined with the printed word.

This program is organized by the Center for South Asian Studies with support from the U-M LSA Theme Semester and co-sponsored by the Museum of Anthropology and the Department of Anthropology.

Francis Cody, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto