India as Method: Challenges and Perspectives in the Study of Media and Politics in Contemporary South Asia

ConTrust Research seminar / Lecture Series with international guest speakers, Winter Semester 2023-24 and Summer Semester 2024

Now the world’s most populous country, India is both the largest producer of films and the largest democracy in the world. Committed to a constitutional order based on the principles of ethnic and religious inclusiveness in the wake of Independence and the Partition of the British Raj into India and Pakistan in 1947, Indian history is dotted with moments of conflcits and crises including a period of authoritarian rule during the Emergency under prime minister Indira Gandhi from 1975 to 1977 and what is currently becoming apparent as an undeclared emergency under the increasingly authoritarian Hindu nationalist government since 2014. Politics and governance in India have long been inextricably linked to cinema and, more recently, digital media. “India as Method” is a year-long research seminar which addresses the complex dynamics of media and politics in this moment of heightened conflict and crisis of democracy.

This seminar emerges from the two-fold question—how cinema emerged and continues to emerge as a multivalent entity in this geographic category of India, and how the category of India itself is produced through specific cinematic practices and the sociopolitical relations and institutions surrounding them. Enlisting the insights of renowned specialists of Indian cinema and South Asian media culture, ‘India as Method’ proposes to study India as a laboratory of media practices which emerge against a backdrop of colonial and imperial legacies to work towards more equitable democratic policies, but also of countervailing media practices which work to call such policies into question. 

The seminar consists of reading and discussion session accompanied by screenings. It is open to students of all degree programs in the department of theater, film and media studies at Goethe Universität, as well as students from anthropology, philosophy, literature, sociology, political science and other related fields.

The seminar is convened by Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Hediger, PD Dr. Pavan Malreddy, both PI of ConTrust, and Dr. Ritika Kaushik, post-doc in the Graduate Research Training Group “Konfigurationen des Films” (

It is recommended that students interested in particpating in “India as Method” also follow the Lecture & Film “An Eye for the World: The Films of Satyajit Ray” (

Goethe University Frankfurt, Campus Westend
Room 7.312
IG Farben Building
Norbert Wollheim Platz 1
60323 Frankfurt