Archive for September, 2007

Becoming Indian-American: a historical marker

September 26, 2007

india_community_association.jpg

I came across this wonderful “historical marker” while driving around in the University Circle neighborhood of Cleveland, and it got me thinking about the critical role of Indian Students Associations in shaping ideas of being and becoming Indian-American (especially during the early phase of migration – late 1960s-1970s). There have been a number of academic articles and books that map different realms of the Indian-American experience, but there isn’t a good ethnographic-historical account of “Indian” student associations.

And now I’m also curious about what “LOTUS, the first Asian Indian community newspaper,” can add to our understanding of media and diasporic identity during the late 1960s. Until I came across this historical marker, I believed that the story of print culture in the Indian-American diaspora began with India Abroad, a newspaper started by Gopal Raju in 1970 (in New York city).

Khosla ka Ghosla in Second Life?

September 24, 2007

So far, I haven’t been *that* interested in Second Life. I’ve followed some discussions surrounding Second Life but I’ve never bothered checking it out for myself. But this morning, I read a story which said New Delhi is India’s First City on Second Life. Given how little I know about Second Life, I assumed this meant a group of people had created a New Delhi-like environment within Second Life. But no, that’s not it. All it means is, of the 12,000 or so active users of Second Life in India, 9000 are from Delhi (article here).

Here’s the interesting part though -

About 90 per cent of the accounts registered from Delhi are engaged in some serious financial investments…One of the more common ways of investing in Second Life is to buy virtual real estate. Then, like in the real world, the user can wait for property prices to escalate, before selling at a profit. The entire transaction is carried out in Linden Dollars, which can be converted into real world currencies on the exchange.

When I read this, I immediately thought about Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006), the brilliant film about land politics in contemporary urban India. I couldn’t help thinking about Khurana, the land-shark in the film, and if the Delhi-ites buying and selling real estate on Second Life are anything like Khurana. Perhaps there are folks like Khosla, the hard-working middle-class man who has to deal with the likes of Khurana and struggle to own a piece of land on the outskirts of Delhi. Is it possible for a drama like Khosla Ka Ghosla to unfold within Second Life?

Bollywood 101 in less than 60 min.

September 18, 2007

I am teaching an upper-level undergraduate course on Global Media and Culture, and we are currently talking about media and the construction of “national” culture(s). And I decided to use post-independence Bombay cinema as a case study. I’ve done this in the past, and it has always been a dicey affair mostly because I’ve had to cobble together film clips spanning six decades and come up with a set of (non-jargony) articles on key aspects of Bombay cinema. Given that it is only part of a larger course, this generally works out well enough and sparks some students’ interest who send me an email about how they can get films and so on. But I’ve been frustrated with the “documentaries” (e.g. Larger than Life) and news features (CBS’ 60 Minutes, for e.g.) out there because they tend to trot out some version of films-for-the-poor-laboring-masses-who-need-escape argument to explain how “different” the films are compared to Hollywood fare.

The good people at the British Film Institute must have been just as frustrated and of course, motivated by the interest in all things Bollywood. As part of the ImagineAsia series, BFI has developed a teaching guide called “Bollywood and Beyond.” In addition to pulling together clips from 1919 (D. G. Phalke era) all the way up to 1998 (Dil Se), the teaching guide includes a CD with a terrific collection of articles on a range of topics. And to make it interesting, I’m going to use this along with some clips from the Queering Bollywood site created by folks at the Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore :)

Welcome to BollySpace 2.0!

September 17, 2007

Two years back, I began blogging as a way to document “fieldwork” towards my dissertation. Needless to say, the blog also served as a space to rant about being ABD. It didn’t work out as well as I had imagined, and the pressures of writing, adjuncting, and job hunting pretty much put an end to Bollyspace. Now that I’ve made the transition from ABD to being gainfully employed, I think I should give Bollyspace another shot.

What will I write about? For the most part, about film, TV and new media in South Asia and the South Asian diaspora.


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