Article: India Trade Liberalization in the 1990s

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Bibliography Information: Krishna, Pravin and Devashish Mitra. “Trade Liberalization, Market Discipline, and Productivity Growth: New Evidence from India.” Journal of Development Economics 56.2 (1998): 447-462. Print.

This article talks about the liberalization policies from 1991 and how they affected India’s shift towards a more deregulated economy…


Govil Office Hours Discussion

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Just a summary of stuff I discussed with my faculty advisor during office hours today…looks like there’s some economic/market forces text to look into!

  • LexisNexis: transformative moment in 1990s with Bollywood’s industry status shift (1998?)
  • A Brief History of Neoliberalism, by David Harvey (
    • ahhh the Geisel copy is “Missing”…I’ll keep hunting around for a copy
    • Just requested it through Interlibrary Loan…hopefully I”ll get it soon!
  • the “critical moment” might even be in the 1980s for India/Hungary (look in LexisNexis with keywords like “Hungary” and “economic transformation”, ~30 years…OR google books)
  • Wages of Freedom, Partha Chatterjee (overview of India’s economic change)
    • also requested this through Interlibrary Loan 🙂
  • Modern South Asia, Sugata Bose & Ayesha Jalal
    • listed as in Geisel, I’ll go tomorrow and look for a copy
  • India After Gandhi, Ramachandra Guha
    • Ordered this one on, along with the Mark Tredinnick book from last week; should arrive by this weekend
  • Signal to Noise, Brian Larkin
    • also requested this through Interlibrary Loan
  • Sarai Reader:
    • “Publications” –> “Sarai Readers” –> List of Annual Readers (No.1-8)

Article: “Desperately Seeking an Identity” (Moorti)

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“Desperately Seeking an Identity: Diasporic Cinema and the Articulation of Transnational Kinship” – Sujata Moorti

  • “The transnational circuits of popular culture permit immigrants to construct a community of sentiment that is articulated in the domestic idiom, one that emphasizes kinship and affective relations based on shared affiliations and identifications” (356)
    • visual culture (like films, other forms of media) allow for migrated communities to feel a link to the homeland based on shared customs/beliefs
  • diasporic films often allow for a more comprehensive/in-depth look at how individuals negotiate between various aspects of their identity (in relation to their surroundings)
  • Moorti provides a nice definition for diaspora: “the term refers to a historically-specific matrix of economic, political, and cultural relationships that helps constitute transnational communities  –  imagined and encountered” (357)
  • Moorti aims to show how visual culture demonstrates the complexity of various links/bonds that the South Asian diaspora in N America feels with itself and with India
  • “Technologies of seeing crosscut and intersect with technologies of gender to help constitute a feminine diasporic mode of enunciation that not only visualizes India differently, but also the transnational female subject as one that straddles multiple cultural and national borders” (358)
    • gender as one “lens” through which diasporic affiliations with the homeland are created and negotiated
  • Diasporic Optic
    • **although Moorti is focusing in this article on the films produced/directed by the South Asian diaspora in N America, I think that a lot of her ideas on the translation of various images/themes in Bollywood films by a diasporic audience still pertain**
    • “If the community imagined by the diaspora is transnational in scope and produces a subject position that lays claim to and negotiates between multiple affiliations, the diasporic optic seeks to reveal this desire for multiple homes through specific representational strategies” (359)
      • this same “diasporic optic” is probably used more often by Bollywood directors/producers in recent years to boost how global audiences (esp NRIs, etc) relate to the film’s content and characters
    • recently there has been less of a present then past chronology of nostalgia and more of a simultaneous relation between the two different facets of experience and identity
  • Rewriting Home
    • here Moorti summarizes “New View, New Eyes” and “Desperately Seeking Helen” as two films made by Indo-Canadian filmmakers
  • Politics of the Gaze
    • Moorti stresses that diaspora/native aspects of identity don’t function as a binary either/or, but rather a blend of many elements
    • “autoethnographic texts” as being a counter to ethnographic texts: the former is a representation by “the Other” of themselves to a European audience (based on colonial discourses)
  • Visualizing Identity
    • continuing process of adjusting various facets of identity to fit with sometimes clashing surroundings
    • “The affective communities that the diaspora re-imagines are not unanchored in locality, but rather are powerfully shaped by the transnational circuits of media, capital, and politics” (368)
  • Masala Remix
    • “the transnational circulation of cultural products not only produces an endless feedback loop, but…also the visuality of film makes possible an alternative articulation of community” (369)
      • this pertains to how film as a visual medium lets viewers actually create a new definition of imagined community, in addition to continuing to spread ideas of culture among the various native and diasporic groups
    • “Rather than assert the need for one particular set of affiliations, the shared language of media cultures permits the films to effect an unstable reconciliation across differences” (371)
      • media like Bollywood films today deliberately leave the final message ambiguous as to allow for diverse audiences to relate to whichever elements they feel closest to
  • Bridging Cultures
    • Bollywood films more and more often aim to “reveal the multiple ways in which global is embedded in the local” (372)
    • Moorti reiterates how the “diasporic optic” allows for a more complex illustration of simultaneous elements of identity vacillating between self/other on a daily basis; more autobiographical/individualized demonstration of experiences heightens the intimacy of this difference

Article: “Classic and Contemporary” (Tharoor)

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“Classic & Contemporary” – Shashi Tharoor, found listed in GB Ch7

  • “films represent the prime vehicle for the transmission of popular culture and values”
  • Tharoor touches on the idea of Bollywood functioning as an escapist form of entertainment; its ability to be relatable to many diverse audiences
  • mentions the eternal relevance of its themes of love, heroism, national unity, duty, etc
  • also the idea of Indian films as a nostalgia trip for many older Indians (maybe can relate this to the role of the NRI in relation to Bollywood’s globalization?)

Article: “Indian Films and Nigerian Lovers: Media and the Creation of Parallel Modernities” (Larkin)

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**the significance of this article/study is to show an example of another reception study involving Bollywood’s globalization in a part of the world where there has been an overall welcoming attitude towards these films despite a lack of Indian diaspora in the population**

  • Bollywood films as providing a platform for the Hausa ( to explore a possible world very different from their own
  • “Indian films offer Hausa viewers a way of imaginatively engaging with forms of tradition different from their own at the same time as conceiving of a modernity that comes without the political and ideological significance of that of the West” (407)
    • like many of the motivations of other Bollywood studies, Larkin’s is based on the causes behind this interaction of cultures that circumvents Western involvement
  • Parallel Modernities
    • Larkin defines this as: “the coexistence in space and time of multiple economic, religious, and cultural flows that are often subsumed within the term ‘modernity'” (407)
    • differs from Appadurai’s idea of “alternative modernities” in that the former does not necessarily assume a dislocated population as being a crucial factor in the creation of such a modernity
    • the binary frameworks used historically to analyze post-colonial culture are obsolete now; needs to be a more multifaceted system of analysis –> even this word “post-colonial” suggests (WRONGLY) that there was a defining closed period of colonialism that all other time periods relate back to in some way
    • Larkin bases much of his analysis by pointing to Appadurai’s ideas of how media influences various audience’s interpretations of their own realities; adding imaginary aspects to the observable actuality
    • “The popularity of Indian films rests on this delicate balance of being situated between Nigerian ‘tradition’ and Western ‘modernity,’ offering a mediating space for postcolonial Hausa viewers from which they may reflect on and consider the nature of contemporary social change” (410)
  • Indian Films and Hausa Viewers
    • lack of much data relating to Bollywood film distribution in Nigeria has contributed to many scholars ignoring this interplay until recent times
    • different reception of “masala” in Bollywood films by Western audiences vs. Nigerian audiences: the latter is much less likely to condemn the genre as a failure to live up to Western filmic standards/approaches
    • the format that many Bollywood films use (with constant allusions to mythical/religious tropes) has allowed for its growing popularity in Nigeria, despite linguistic/cultural differences
    • Nandy argues, in terms as relevant for Nigerians as they are for Indians, that Indian films are successful with Indian masses because despite their spectacle and rich settings they are based in a moral universe of action that is grounded in a traditional world view” (413)
    • mid 1970s shift of Indian filmic style/music to reflect more cosmopolitanism and Westernization was paralleled with Nigerian industrial shifts related to oil production; time of struggle in relation to how Nigerian viewers identified with Bollywood
  • Imagination, Narrative, and Social Change
    • especially in relation to the institution of marriage, Indian films have provided an escape/fantasy for Hausa, who have similar wedding traditions; film allows people to grapple with real issues in an acceptable form
  • Youth and Marriage in Contemporary Kano
    • industrial shifts in Nigeria have led to a growing resistance among Hausa youth involving customs of marriage
    • Hausa books (soyayya) and Bollywood films have long explored the possibility of romantic fantasies
    • “Indian films [succeeded] only by engaging with issues that were meaningful to Hausa viewers yet at the same time providing enough of a difference for alternative resolutions to be possible…[revealing] the intertextual presence of Indian films” (418)
  • Market Literature in the Vernacular: The Rise of SOYAYYA Books
    • littatafan soyayya = love stories; first came about from Kano, a cultural center in northern Nigeria; mostly target youth with content and themes of love
    • seen as a social movement to counter many existing restrictions involving marriage, especially as enforced on young Hausa women
    • Larkin mentions “the complicated ways in which transnational media flows become incorporated into individual experience and affect larger social constructions such as gender” (423-424)
    • quick summary of two soyayya books (p425); many soyayya books serve to put a rebellious spin on existing Hausa traditions/attitudes; very melodramatic/sensational; they often show intergenerational conflicts revolving around ideas of modernity and tradition (very similar to Bollywood tropes)
    • “the mass culture of soyayya books and Indian films develops the process of ambiguity by presenting various resolutions of similar predicaments in thousands of narratives extending over many years” (429)
  • Soyayya Books, Youth, and Social Change: The Controversy
    • these books have led to an evolution in the way that Hausa (mainly young women) approach situations of romance; these cultural productions have led to real social change in gender relations
  • Conclusion
    • important point by Larkin: “For Hausa viewers, Indian films have been situated in cultural space that sands outside the binary distinctions between tradition and modernity, Africa and the West, resistance and domination. The images of modernity they offer are mediated through a concern for maintaining traditional social relations and so they run parallel to, similar yet different from, the modernity offered by Westernization” (433)
    • yet reductionism by many scholars historically has led to a lack of acknowledgment of this significant cultural interplay between India and Nigeria
    • “Indian films are popular because they provide a parallel modernity, a way of imaginatively engaging with the changing social basis of contemporary life that is an alternative to the pervasive influence of a secular West” (434)

Article: “Cine-Patriotism” (Sethi)

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“Cine-Patriotism” by Manisha Sethi, found listed in Ch 7 GB

  • idea of Bollywood reinventing India’s history in a more glorifying way; much more implications when these films/messages are being shared worldwide to a very diverse set of audiences
  • how the Indian hero in many ultra-nationalist Bollywood movies ends up representing the nation in a very violent and masculine way; deliberately confuses real political action and aggressiveness
  • in this way, various aspects of Indian history have become very sensationalized
  • and yet the nation is simultaneously symbolized as being feminine and needing to be saved by the hero
  • even though this genre of Bollywood films isn’t nearly as popular in recent years, it is still important to consider how this category spreads a certain idea of India both in the country and around the world, and how different audiences will interpret these representations in various ways

Article: “Bollywood in the Indian-American diaspora: Mediating a Transitive Logic of Cultural Citizenship” (Punathambekar)

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  • very interesting idea of “reterritorialization” (151) for how Indian diaspora reclaims certain aspects of their original identity
  • example of Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham ( or…) as a film that shows diasporic Indian identity – both individual and familial – as an acceptable alternate instead of a adulterated version
  • Public Culture Goes Transnational
    • “these audiences can no longer be treated as merely markets catalyzing the ‘globalization’ of the Hindi film industry or as communities seemingly starved of cultural resources, but rather, as an integral part of the cultural imaginary of Hindi cinema” (153)
      • must look more into the evolution of the perception/formation of the NRI identity!!
    • NRIs stand for much more than simply an expatriate Indian in the context of films, but now as a role model for financial success in the global sense
    • this idea of character has come about from interactions between the State, the Hindi film industry, and various audience communities (both in India and those around the world)
  • Viewing Practices: Continuity and Cultural Residence
    • in 1960s and 1970s, Indian films were looked upon by diasporic audiences as a link to the homeland; as something that was exclusively Indian: evoking a sense of nostalgia
    • interesting technological development: as videocassettes became more popular/affordable, there was a shift away from public screenings to more family/private watching
    • 1990s: development of ZEE TV as well as Indian radio allowed for continuity of Bollywood experience through various platforms/mediums
  • Designer India for Suburban Homes
    • recent efforts for films (like KKKG) to show tradition and modernity existing simultaneously AND in harmony (trying to find a balance between various perspectives of audience members)
    • yet at the same time, “tradition” is often tied to lower classes, being more closely bonded through “performing ethnicity” (157)
    • author points out that NRIs are aware of their straddling position as well as their potential to create a new sense of India (more globally-focused and less on ethnic tension & poverty): “model minority” (157)
    • advantages of this approach: constant awareness of the possibilities of India in the future; disadvantages: it starts creating an imagined ideal India that may not be actually implemented (leading to more disjuncture between diasporic and native Indian populations)
  • Rehearsing, Reworking, and Remaining “Indian”
    • idea of NRI households maintaining a certain level of Indian tradition, usually personified in the role of women in various Bollywood films
    • “English-language films and music, soaps and sitcoms on television and stereotypical assessments of modes of socialization (dating, for instance) and other sociocultural phenomena (divorce rates, single-parent households, and so on) are all marshalled as evidence of the debauched West and situated in sharp contrast to the traditional and morally superior values of ‘Indianness’ in countless Hindi movies” (159)
    • “Viewers in the diaspora disassociate the dialogue from its context within the film and reinsert it into their own viewing postionality” (161)
      • formerly only-Indian issues are translated into arenas of debate/concern that the Indian diaspora would find worthy of reflection; while in India it might be an issue of caste/class, the diaspora takes it to allude to existing ethnic clashes among different generations (and different cultural groups)
    • Punathambekar points out that recently, Bollywood films like KKKG have started to change their message to this: “the flow of cultural elements that lend authenticity is no longer a heavy-handed one-way flow from India to its expatriate Other…[who is shown as] less of a transgressive Other and more of an acceptable variant within the fold of a ‘great Indian family'” (162)
  • The Nation Seeks its Citizens
    • “Not only is the family rendered inextricable from the nation, it is an explicit acknowledgment, both to viewers in India and the diaspora, of the diaspora’s abiding desire to stay in touch with India” (163)
      • here, Punathambekar shows that the family remains a microcosm of the unity/stability of India, even in the context of NRI life
  • Cultural Nationalism: of Desi Home(s) and Deferred Citizenship
    • very important point: “Rajadhyksha’s argument that the exportation of Bollywood cinema also signifies an export of ‘Indian nationalism itself, now commodified and globalized into a ‘feel good’ version of our culture’ (2003: 37) needs to be extended much further to account for the complexities inherent in a three-way relationship between diasporic audiences, Bollywood, and the Indian state. I would like to posit that a transitive logic is operative here, that the complex interactions between A) the diaspora and B) Bollywood, and between B) Bollywood and C) India, have set the stage for C) India to remap symbolic and material relationships with A) the diaspora” (164)
      • network of interactions between diaspora, India, and Bollywood have created each to be what they are today
    • the motivations of the the Indian media system in relation to NRIs becomes increasingly complex as the latter contributes more and more to the nationalistic view of India

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