South Asian Popular Culture - Special Issue

full name / name of organization: 
Priya Jha, University of Redlands
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Intensive Bollywood: Media and Nonlinear History in South Asia
Special Issue: South Asian Popular Culture, October 2011

How do we approach the emergence of various media forms? From radio to the mobile phone, from tamashas to Bollywood, different affects and novel perceptions resonate with new media ecologies. These media processes are covered over by a form of criticism that takes the actual media form for history itself. We are interested in returning criticism to the nonlinear field of potentiality from which these actual media forms emerge. The dominance of Hindi-Urdu cinema in South Asian media studies has shaped popular cultural criticism, to the point of often occluding this history.

Thus, Hindi-Urdu cinema has been discussed for the most part in three ways:

1) as national cinema
2) as a global phenomenon
3) as the "purple pleasures of the moment"

Yet scant attention has been paid to the intensive processes of emergent filmic forms that take the critical gaze beyond cinema: from Hindi-Urdu cinema's "going global" to its intermedial forms of habituations, South Asian film in its various moments of media assemblage gives birth to new processes, new meanings, new perceptions, new interfaces. These processes of intermedial formations and their nonlinear history is the focus of this special issue of South Asian Popular culture.

Our sense is that the transformation of media (for example: the Bombay film apparatus becoming integrated with global Hollywood) doesn't follow a straightforward trajectory--some unbroken line from colonial to national to global. Rather, rigorous attention to the intensive processes of intermedia helps us in diagramming the phase spaces and transitions of new media forms throughout history (its field of potentiality and its actual forms). This is an intervention in the monumentalizing of linear media history in South Asia. Foregrounding media's nonlinear history shows that there were complex and unresolved negotiations between the national, the global, and the local. Historicizing these heterogeneous articulations helps in de-sedimenting this narrative, and also in pragmatically situating our present moment of transnational intermedia.

We are looking for critical essays, which should be 6,000-7,000 words, or pieces for the "Working Notes", which should be 2,000 – 3,000 words. The "Working Notes" selections may be more experimental, creative, or informal and should draw on theory or other intellectual issues that fit into the theme of this special issue.

Possible topics include but are by no means limited to:
• Subaltern cinemas and their legacies
• Regional language cinemas displacing the dominance of Bollywood
• Interdisciplinary approaches to media history
• Non-linear dynamics and media emergence
• Fandom and the active audience
• Old and new circuits of film music
• New linguistic codes in media delivery
• Potentializing gender in media forms
• Affective dispositions in media aesthetics
• Capital, gradient flows, and media history
• Sexuality and sensation in mutating bodies and morphing media

Please send 300-500 word abstracts to Dr. Priya Jha at and Dr. Amit S. Rai at by June 1, 2010. Please indicate on your submission whether you are submitting a critical essay or a piece for the "Working Notes."