13,738 A Media Anthropology of India, Call for chapters


CALL FOR CHAPTERS– Preeti Raghunath and Haripriya Narasimhan


The intertwining of Communication and Media Studies, and the discipline of Anthropology is not new, in the Indian context. Arjun Appadurai’s (1990) considered takes on global communication flows and mediascapes, Purnima Mankekar’s (1999) landmark work on screen cultures, and the steady engagement of anthropologists like Binod C. Agrawal (1985) in Communication and Media Studies, are some instances of efforts at bringing the two subject areas to influence each other.

The growing number of ethnographies in Communication and Media Studies showcase the influence of Anthropology’s methodological and epistemological offerings to study various media-related phenomena. Research on media and cultures is underway in various departments of Cultural Studies and Film Studies, in the country and outside.

Similarly, the popularity of digital ethnography, anthropology of popular culture and development, are areas that have caught Anthropology’s fancy. Visual Anthropology has emerged as a distinct field within Anthropology, while departments of Sociology carry out ethnographic work on aspects of Communication and Media Studies. These disparate engagements across diverse disciplinary frameworks purport a call for a unification of these efforts. The lack of a reflexive formulation of Media Anthropology as a distinct sub-discipline is strikingly evident.,

This proposed edited volume on Media Anthropology is a call to recognize, and conceptualize such a sub-discipline in and on India, an area that seems to warrant careful attention in its own right. It is in this context that we seek to lay out the genealogy of such a body of work, take cognizance of the ‘practice’ turn in Communication and Anthropology alike, contend with technology’s current multiple offerings, and provide insights from decolonial and non-Western perspectives.

We ask a range of questions: What are the key works that would feature in a genealogy of a Media Anthropology of India? Can one conceptualize such a sub- discipline as comprising only ethnographic work, or do there exist other methodological and epistemological inputs that could go into its formulation? Is media synonymous with technology and related cultures? On a related note, how would such a sub-discipline contend with accusations of technological determinism and evolutionary undertones? How does the ‘practice’ turn in Communication and Media Studies that seeks to go beyond media-centrism (Couldry, 2004; Budka, 2020) propel human-centric work? What are the politics of the digital turn as seen through empirical realities in India? Finally, what does Media Anthropology of India have to offer in terms of critical perspectives and for the current decolonial turn that the social sciences are contending with.

In a bid to answer these questions, we propose a set of themes that are not exhaustive by any means:

Ø Conceptualising a Media Anthropology of India
Ø Genealogical accounts and reviews of media anthropology research in/on India Ø Methodological interventions, including but not limited to multi-modal methods, autoethnographies, policy ethnography, design ethnography and the like

Ø Media histories and historiographies, and their linkages to the anthropological

Ø Anthropological lenses on media, popular and tech cultures, including but not limited to the study of newsrooms, cinema, AI

Ø Accounts of Praxis, drawing on precarities and informality of labour

Ø Studies of identities and marginalities of various kinds, also enabled by the recognition of intersectionalities

Ø Encountering the Transnational and Global

Ø Infrastructures and the Urban

Ø Capturing the Datafication of human lives that is currently underway

Please email your abstracts to mediaanthrobook@gmail.com, by November 10, 2020. The chapters themselves could be written in diverse formats like reflexive essays, commentaries, thick ethnographies, interviews and beyond, facilitating a range of inquiries into the sub-discipline. The editors will work with the shortlisted authors to weave together the edited volume, for which interest has been expressed by a prominent international publisher.


Preeti Raghunath is an Assistant Professor at the Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (SIMC), Pune, India.

Haripriya Narasimhan is an Associate Professor at the Department of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad, India. 

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