CTF 2016: Politics of Media, Media of Politics

May 19-21, 2016

This year’s workshop focuses on the politics of media and the media of politics in contemporary Tamil Nadu. As the literatures on politics and media in south India have shown, forms of semiotic mediation have long been constitutive of modern political action in colonial and post-colonial south India—in particular, scholars have focused on Dravidian parties’ use of theater, stage oratory, print media, cinema, billboards, and television in electoral politics and political mobilization); at the same time, however, the mediatization of populist politics has also shown how media institutions and practices are central objects of political contention construed more generally, be it in the politics of public meetings, cut-outs or flexboards, cable distribution, newspaper reportage, or cinematic representation, among others.

This workshop thinks theoretically about the dialectical link between these two foci in the literature, while at the same time critically reassessing the scope of this linkage, moving beyond the canonical objects of analysis, both in terms of what are considered “media” and what is considered “politics,” and in their nexus in Tamil Nadu (viz. studies of Dravidian parties use of mass media—in particular, cinema—in electoral mobilization).

The workshop, then, continues the Chicago Tamil Forums’s critical reappraisals of Dravidianism from its margins(CTF 2015), while at the same time delineating wider theoretical horizons of the politics of mediation and the mediation of politics.

Friday, May 20, 2016
Workshop papers

Indira Arumugam (National University of Singapore) “Fraught Gifts: Ritual and Electoral Transactions and Political Value in Village Tamil Nadu.” (Published in Contributions to Indian Society)

Perundevi Srinivasan (Siena College) “Love Meets Death: “Honour,” Caste and the Female Subjec.t”

E. Annamalai (University of Chicago) “Mediations in Tamil: The Limits of Power.”

Memorial Session
Remembering John Bernard Bate (1960-2016), a memorial session (2:40 – 4:20pm, Haskell Hall 315) dedicated to the memory and scholarship of John Bernard “Barney” Bate (1960-2016), a central member of the Chicago Tamil Forum who passed away unexpectedly on March 10, 2016.

Film screening
Nagappattinam: Waves from the Deep, directed by Swarnavel Eswaran (Michigan State University) (4:45-6:15pm, Foster 103)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Workshop papers
Swarnavel Eswaran (Michigan State University) “Mysskin’s Pisaasu (2014): Ghost as the Goddess.” (Published in Studies in South Asia Film and Media)

Amanda Weidman (Bryn Mawr College) “Circulating Voices: The Gendered Beginnings of Playback.” (Working Papers of the Chicago Tamil Forum)

S. V. Srinivas (Azim Premji University) “Rajinikant and the “Regional Blockbuster”.” (Working Papers of the Chicago Tamil Forum)

Constantine V. Nakassis (University of Chicago) “Spoofs and the Politics of the Film Image’s Ontology in Tamil Cinema” (Published in New Review of Film and Television Studies)