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India as Film Studies

3. November 2023 / 10:00 12:00

ConTrust Research seminar “India as Method: Challenges and Perspectives in the Study of Media and Politics in Contemporary South Asia”

With Ravi Vasudevan

At a time when the name India is under potential erasure, to be displaced by avowedly “pre-colonial” terms, it is an occasion to reflect on the name, its genealogies and etymologies; the cultural affiliations, exclusions and potentialities it conjures up; as a state overseeing a congeries of linguistically and culturally diverse federal states; and as the dominant of the region, South Asia, itself a Cold War and “area studies” construct. In this way, a work of deconstruction could offer a broader method and template for the interrogation of methodological nationalism even as it explores the potentialities of multi-nation states. In this presentation, I propose to take for my entry point India as Film Studies, to reflect on key categories that have proven influential in an academic and intellectual engagement with India as cinema; how these may rest in problematic relation to each other and to the regions of India and South Asia; how concepts that appear novel may parallel forms observable in other cinemas; and also how terms that have come in from “elsewhere” may be reframed to dynamize conceptual debates and discussions across film contexts. The seminar takes as a reference point the multi-authored bid to think of categories and concepts animating the field of Indian and South Asian cinema in the special Keywords Issue of Bioscope: South Asian Screen Studies (Volume 12, 2021)

Ravi Vasudevan is a film and media historian. With Ravi Sundaram, he directs Sarai, the media research programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, and is co-founder of Bioscope: South Asian Screen Studies (2010-). His recent publications include the edited works Documentary Now (Marg Special issue, 2018) and Media and the Constitution of the Political (2021)

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Graduate Research Training Group “Konfigurationen des Films”

Institute for Theatre, Film and Media Studies (TFM) at Goethe University

Research Initiative “ConTrust: Trust in Conflict – Political Life under Conditions of Uncertainty”