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Mythopolitics and Melodrama in the Forging of Populist Power in Contemporary India
12. Juli 2023 / 18:15 – 19:45
ConTrust Speaker Series 2023
Ravi Vasudevan (CSDS in Delhi, Fellow ConTrust)
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Hediger (Goethe-Universität, ConTrust) und Dr. Pavan Malreddy (Goethe-Universität, ConTrust)
This presentation draws on the archive of cinema to explore the force of the mythopolitical and the melodramatic in the constitution of populist power. Tracking certain genealogies that predate the colonial experience, I deploy the category of mythopolitics to signify a story world that retails cosmologies and origin stories, understandings of authority, duty and subjectivity, and how these are moulded to facilitate populist formations that promise mobility within an authoritarian imprimatur. My second focus is on melodrama, a mode which emerges in Europe and America in the 18th century and which since the 1990s has travelled widely as critical category. It provides an armature of aesthetic excess gesturing, often incoherently, to fraught transitions that unsettle subjects, social orders, and the sacred in a bid to arrive at a felt truth. As Linda Williams has noted, melodrama as a field of affective engagement is subject to mutable identifications and attachments, with political adversaries laying claim to victimhood and the imperatives of justice and self-assertion, and is open to the drives of political domination.
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