Dr. Ramnath Bhat

Communicative infrastructure and constitution of the political in Chhattisgarh, India

October 2021 – April 2022

Research Description:

The research project is an attempt to unpack the complexity and scale at which the political in India is radically mediated. The project aims to make an original contribution by investigating the ways in which communicative infrastructure playing a significant role in constituting the political. Much of recent and contemporary research in to the mediated constitution of the political is restricted to surveillance and privacy issues, the mediation of everyday life and governance has been understudied, especially in the Global South countries. While useful, this research project seeks to provide a much broader view of the political by emphasising the mediation of everyday life as it is lived and experienced – both in terms of constructing subjectivities and in forging state-subject relations. The research project is based on 8 months of ethnographic research in Chhattisgarh and draws upon theoretical frameworks from my doctoral research. The methodological emphasis of the research is on ethnographic observation and analysis of infrastructural practices that can help understand a mediated constitution of the political in all its complexity across state and subject, personal and political, individual and group, local and global levels. The role of communicative infrastructure in conceptualising the political anew will be through emphasis on three dimensions: (i) institutional arrangements at the state, national and global levels that produce the ‘state’ in terms of its effects, (ii) affective and aesthetic aspects of the political in terms of producing social haunting and violence and (iii) the transformations in experiences of temporality, spatiality and thereby the emergence of new subjectivities. All three dimensions will be based on previous (untapped) ethnographic data collected as well as proposed short follow-up research in Chhattisgarh. The follow-up research is primarily to investigate how these three dimensions of the political have further been impacted by governmentality in a COVID-19 context.

Bio:

Ram is a co-founder of a media and arts collective Maraa and holds a PhD in Media and Communications from the London School of Economics. He has worked in the media (for) development sector for more than a decade, in the areas of research, capacity building, media production and policy advocacy. His research interests include political economy of media and communications, anthropological approaches to media and communications infrastructure, sociology of disinformation and violence, mediation of politics and subjectivity, especially caste and indigeneity in India. 

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