The Televised Community. Culture, Politics, and the Market of Visual Representation in India [Elektronische Ressource] / Britta Ohm. Betreuer: Werner Schiffauer
392 Pages
English

The Televised Community. Culture, Politics, and the Market of Visual Representation in India [Elektronische Ressource] / Britta Ohm. Betreuer: Werner Schiffauer

-

Downloading requires you to have access to the YouScribe library
Learn all about the services we offer

Description

Britta Ohm The Televised Community Culture, Politics, and the Market of Visual Representation in India Dissertation, submitted 09.02.2007, Faculty of Cultural Sciences, Chair for Comparative Cultural and Social Anthropology, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany 1. Supervisor: Prof. Werner Schiffauer 2. Supervisor: PD Dr. Barbara Wolbert TO ALEX Acknowledgements I have to thank a long list of people for making this study possible, many of whom I do not even know by name but who have helped in everyday ways. I am particularly grateful to my interview partners, the overwhelming part of which welcomed me open-heartedly in their offices, workplaces and even beyond that in their private lives and was willing to share sometimes hours with me despite work pressures and metropolitan hectic. It is they, even though they do not all figure in the writing in a thoroughly affirmative way, on whose readiness to talk this study basically rests. Very special thanks go to my mother, Helga Ohm. Her uncompromising support, mentally and materially, which she extended often despite inner quarrels with my increasing shift towards a region of the world she has never visited (and, supposedly, will not any more), gave me a lot of confidence and enabled me to pre-finance parts of my research and to afford extras that my work - and my soul - sometimes badly required.

Subjects

Informations

Published by
Published 01 January 2011
Reads 23
Language English
Document size 4 MB







Britta Ohm



The Televised Community
Culture, Politics, and the Market of Visual Representation
in India









Dissertation, submitted 09.02.2007, Faculty of Cultural Sciences, Chair for Comparative
Cultural and Social Anthropology, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany



1. Supervisor: Prof. Werner Schiffauer
2. Supervisor: PD Dr. Barbara Wolbert









TO ALEX
Acknowledgements

I have to thank a long list of people for making this study possible, many of whom I do not
even know by name but who have helped in everyday ways. I am particularly grateful to my
interview partners, the overwhelming part of which welcomed me open-heartedly in their
offices, workplaces and even beyond that in their private lives and was willing to share
sometimes hours with me despite work pressures and metropolitan hectic. It is they, even
though they do not all figure in the writing in a thoroughly affirmative way, on whose
readiness to talk this study basically rests.
Very special thanks go to my mother, Helga Ohm. Her uncompromising support, mentally
and materially, which she extended often despite inner quarrels with my increasing shift
towards a region of the world she has never visited (and, supposedly, will not any more), gave
me a lot of confidence and enabled me to pre-finance parts of my research and to afford extras
that my work - and my soul - sometimes badly required. (Almost) the same accounts for my
godmother, Maria-Theresia Piechotta.
I am grateful to my supervisors Werner Schiffauer, for teaching me what anthropology can
be, and, especially, Barbara Wolbert, for her unrelenting mental and practical encouragement.
I thank the sarai media initiative in Delhi for technical and infrastructural support and many
good conversations and am indebted to Debatri Das, Susanne Gupta, Samina Mishra,
Umakant, Chinmaya Khatri, Vinay Choudhary, Parvati Balagopalan and Klaus Voll for
making my times in India enjoyable and for making me always look forward to coming back.
I thank Ina Kerner for going all the way with me, Barbara Christophe, Nicole Wolf, Julia
Eckert, Nadja-Christina Schneider, Sophia Bech, Rita Panesar, Giti Thadani and the
Colloquium of the Department for Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Viadrina-
University Frankfurt/Oder for various debates of ideas and for providing valuable inputs to
the manuscript at different stages. Needless to say that all mistakes and errors in the present
text are solely mine. I am grateful to Christiane Brosius and my students in the seminar “The
Changing Cultures of Television in South Asia” at the Institute for South Asian Studies,
University of Heidelberg, for their curiosity and interest that helped me to look at some of my
fieldwork material I presented to them with different eyes. I thank Christiane Kerlen, Martin
Saar, Ulf Maaßen, Matthias Bertsch and Philip Krippendorff for their enduring friendship
despite my long mental and physical absences – and, in the case of Martin, despite my
increasing presence – and Felicity Nicholson for many relaxing and inspiring conversations about India and the world. Most of all, however, I thank Alex Nicholson for still being with
me. He could not have chosen a more difficult time to meet me.
The research for this study was financed by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin, and I
received generous funding from the “Programm zur Förderung von Frauen in Forschung und
Lehre” (Programme for the Promotion of Women in Research and Teaching) at the Humboldt
University, Berlin, whose discontinuation will mean one institution less amongst the very few
that resist bureaucratic strangleholds and academic vanities and put the interest and need of
the scholar first.



Contents

1. Introduction 1

Part I

2. Re-Inventing the Nation and its Medium 10
2.1. Difference Instead of Distinction: The Nation-State in Appadurai
and the Subaltern Studies Group 17
2.2. The Anthropologicalisation of the Subaltern 26
2.3. The Local and the Global: Visions of Salvation in Nandy
and Appadurai 33
2.4. Whither the Nation-State? 42
2.5. The Location of Television 45
2.5.1. In the Trap of Teleology 46
2.5.2. Twins of the Modern: Television and the Nation 49
2.5.3. In the Throes of the Nation 54
2.5.4. The Transnational and the Global 61

3. The Limits of Transnationalism and the Limits of Resistance 63
3.1. De-Ideologising the Medium: Transnational Companies and
the ‘Cultural Turn’ 69
3.2. The Defensive, the Absentee and the Complicit State 76
3.3. The Wave of Indian Television and the Difficulties in Getting to the Shore 88
3.4. De-Ideologising the Message: The Nation of Numbers 100
3.5. Moral Panic in the Making: The Nation of Values 106

4. The ‘Split Public’ Revisited: The Trajectory from ‘English’ to ‘Hindi’ 115
4.1. The Freedom of Imprisonment on a Hinglish Island 121
4.2. Prepositions of ‘Culture’: Education Denied and Training Disabled 128
4.3. Terminating Hybridity: From the Elite to ‘The People’ 140
4.4. Aaj Tak: The Upward Mobility of ‘Hindi Hindi’ 145 Part II

5. The Ethnographic Moment: Arriving at “Gujarat” 155
5.1. Time and the Vanishing Other 155
5.2. Not Just Another Riot: Why Gujarat was Different 169
5.3. The Economical and the Ideological 175
5.3.1. Contained by the Global: Bombay 1993 176
5.3.2. Contained by the Local: Gujarat 2002 183
5.3.3. Taking Sides 198

6. The Media and Its (Unravelling) Public 201
6.1. The Inability to Mourn and the Unwillingness to Resist 202
6.2. Democracy Deadlocked: The Sangh Parivar’s Dominant Discourse of Defense 213
6.2.1. Polarisation Organised and Equalisation Demanded 219
6.3. In Medias Res: The Power of Impotency 233
6.3.1. Impartial Media in a Partial State 237
6.3.2. Variations of Distance: Cultural Reproduction and Political Exposure 245


Part III

7. From the Society of Discipline Towards the Society of Control 260
7.1. The Visual and the Commercial 262
7.2. The Battle of Images and People’s Television 269
7.3. Entertaining Hindutva 285

8. The Waves of Hindutva and the Victory of Television 298
8.1. De-Ideologising the Image: The Educational and the Commercial 302
8.2. Closing the Circle: From the Mythological to the K-formula 310
8.3. Manufacturing Success: The Tandem of the K-formula 320
8.3.1. A Crore for ‘Indian Ethnic Knowledge’: From Bachchan-the-Hero
to Bachchan-the-Host 321
8.3.2. Life According to the Soap 332
Conclusion 350

Bibliography 356
Glossary 376
List of Abbreviations and Organisations 380
Appendix: Ownership of Broadcasters and Chronology of their Appearance in India 382

1. Introduction

This book was not meant to be a study on Hindu nationalism and television in India, at least
not to the degree it has turned out to be. It was meant to be a study on the negotiation of the
nation-state in a transnationalised and privatised television landscape. Seeing television not as
a distinct field but taking it as an intrinsic part of contemporary society and thus as a form of
looking at and understanding its processes, it aimed at attempting an anthropology of the
nation’s cultural and political production in a transnationalised and globalised context.
To a large extent, this is what it has become. The vagaries of fieldwork, however, always
entail the aspect of incalculability as they catapult the researcher, however well prepared he or
she might be, into a particular historical moment in time of the society he or she travels to.
This general aspect of the momentary was in my case anyway enhanced by the inherently
ephemeral character of the television image that I was directly dependent on (in the very
practical sense of spending many of my hours in front of the TV). But it became even more
intensified by accidentally starting my work at the very moment (in late February 2002) of the
outbreak of fierce violence in the West Indian state of Gujarat, whose government – like that
of the Indian state government – was constituted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the
parliamentarian affiliate of the Sangh Parivar (the ‘family’ of Hindu nationalist
organisations). The violence quickly turned out to represent the most thoroughly state
orchestrated and most encompassing pogrom against the Muslim population in the country’s
long history of Hindu-Muslim violence and a culmination point in the sway of Hindu
nationalism over Indian politics and society.
This coincidence had not only an immediate impact particularly on my visual material -
because news television channels were continuously reporting on the violence in Gujarat -
and, as it turned out, on many of my informants – executives of the leading national news and
entertainment channels as well as related journalists, directors and writers. It also forced me to
take a stand. Thomas Blom Hansen, in his study on the changing city of Bombay under the
impression of the violent politics of the Shiv Sena, a regional affiliate of the Sangh Parivar,
has pointed out that “one cannot remain neutral when working with violent nationalist
organizations such as Shiv Sena, or the Hindu nationalist movement. […] Indeed, one must
take a stand, not as the waving of certain flags but as a reflection on where one’s allegiances
1 and emotions are, what sympathies and empathies drive one to interpret events in certain
1ways rather than others.”
I cannot say that my position towards Hindu nationalism, developed during earlier work in
India, had been really neutral beforehand, and the incoming reports on the atrocities
committed in Gujarat and the acute feelings of despair and helplessness amongst Muslims
made an emotional neutrality anyway impossible. But beyond that gave me the immediacy of
the ongoing pogrom, the spectacular agency of Sangh Parivar-outfits in the public sphere and
the politics of the BJP-led central government the opportunity to study most directly the
movement’s strategies of dealing with the media and of organising and conducting a public
discourse that in itself was characterised by an open partiality. The government’s demand to
the news media to remain ‘impartial’ in their reporting and analysis of the violence became in
this acute situation the ultimate sign that any ‘neutrality’ – of the media as much as of
scientific research – would inevitably align itself with the Sangh Parivar’s increasingly
obvious design.
Under this preliminary, the present study is constructed in the way of a long and partly
historical trajectory that in large parts revolves around Star TV, the first transnational satellite
broadcaster in India, owned since 1993 by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. The book
‘follows’, so to speak, the journey of Star TV – taking into account its many side-effects and
concurrent developments – from being a broadcaster that arrived in India in 1991 with
exclusively Western/American programming and that ‘thought’ it could ignore the nation-
state, via its difficult transformation into a – extremely successful - Indianised broadcaster
aiming at catering to an Indian national audience and thereby changing profoundly the fashion
in which this audience was watching television. In a way, this trajectory parallels my own
journey, with a time difference of just over ten years, from theoretically thinking about the
significance of the nation-state in the context of globalisation and my encounter with its
current contesting formations in India. While Star TV with its arrival triggered off the process
of television’s open privatisation in India and the quick development of a vast TV landscape,
my own arrival coincided with the above-described moment of Hindu nationalist dominance
and violence. The concurrence of these two developments, Hindu nationalism and (televisual)
privatisation, form the basic focus of the analysis in the attempt to provide insights into the

1 Thomas Blom Hansen, 2001, Urban Violence in India. Identity Politics, ‘Mumbai’, and the Postcolonial City,
New Delhi: Permanent Black, pp. 16/17.
2