CTF 2018: Mass Publicity and Mediation in Tamilagam

May 24-26, 2018

Political and civil society are intertwined with institutions of mass media the world over. And this is no less true of Tamil Nadu, which is (in)famously known, within India, for its media-saturated public sphere. This is in large part because of the prominence of film in political mobilization. Yet the nexus of cinema and electoral politics marks only one aspect of how social and cultural life in the Tamil world has been shaped by modern communication infrastructures. Indeed, the post-Dravidian moment of the present—marked by new caste parties and coalitions, post-cinepolitical legacies of the Dravidianist parties, and the rise of new media and the explosion of non-cinematic “old” media (print, television)—calls for a reappraisal of the place of mass media and mass publicity in Tamilagam.

This workshop aims to expand our understandings of mass mediation and social life in this part of south India by focusing on the expansive and diverse ways through which public life in Tamil-speaking communities is mediated. The larger aim of this workship is to rethink classical theories of the public sphere and democratic politics that have largely been based on idealized accounts of Western political history. Tamilagam presents a critical lens to do this, not simply because of its intensely mediatized electoral political history, but because of its complex forms of publicity that exceed liberal accounts of the public sphere and civil society.

Thursday May 24, 2018
Keynote address
William Mazzarella (University of Chicago, Anthropology)
Approximately 52 Seconds: The Time of Prior Commitment
(5pm, Foster Hall 103)

Friday, May 25, 2018

– Francis Cody (University of Toronto, Anthropology), “Media Involution.”

– Damodaran Karthikeyan (University of Edinburgh, Sociology), “Traversing between the Sacral and Political: The Iconisation of Muthuramalinga Thevar.”

– Bhavani Raman (University of Toronto, History), “Calling the Other Shore: Tamil Studies and Decolonization.” (Published in Belonging across the Bay of Bengal)

– Stephen Hughes (SOAS, Anthropology), “Social Sense and Embodied Sensibility: Towards a Historical Phenomenology of Film Going.” (Published in The Routledge Companion to New Cinema History)

Saturday, May 26, 2018

– Kajri Jain (University of Toronto, Art History), “Mass, Area, Scale: Doing the Numbers with Monuments in Kanyakumari.”

– Anna Seastrand (University of Minnesota, Art History), “Motivated Reading: Text and Image in the Temples of Tamilakam.”

– Amanda Weidman (Bryn Mawr College, Anthropology), “‘Pāṭṭukku Oru Talaivar’: Making a Dravidian Voice.”

– Constantine V. Nakassis (University of Chicago, Anthropology), “The Hero’s Mass and the Ontological Politics of the Cinematic Image.” (Published in Journal of Cinema and Media Studies)