Pilot Projects 2015 – 2017 

Among the Thematic Modules (TMs) TM 3 “Critiques and Renewals of Democracy”  has engaged in undertaking and testing Pilot Projects, already during ICAS:MP’s preliminary phase. From summer 2017 onwards, other TMs have also taken up this format.

Materials from these pilot research projects, as well as projects to be pursued in the main phase, will be housed on an online platform based in Göttingen, the Critiques of Democracy Archive.  The Archive will become functional during the first two years of the main phase, and can then be a resource for researchers across ICAS as well as the public.


Pilot Projects by TM 3 (2015  – current) 

(1) Vernacular communisms and the limits of “the people”  (2015-16)

This project examined how left movements in southern India redefined the political in the early post-independence decades. Focusing on “minor” grassroots movements more than left parties, the research collected—oral interviews, pamphlet literature, and news media—shows how contests over the meanings of caste and labour redefined both “the people” as the subject of the left politics, as well as the bounds of the political.

(2) Media and Metamorphosis (2015 – present): 

This digital archive project on oral histories of Indian journalism that tracked the changing relationship between state, society, and media through the remembered life/work histories of Indian journalists provided the evidence for our claim that the 1970s represents a critical turning point in the normative constitution of the political. In the main phase, we will explore both the global linkages which enabled this transformation, as well as closely tracking how the effects of this shift were felt across succeeding decades, firmly establishing “exteriority” as a political claim in India and elsewhere.  We will also focus specifically on the phenomenon of mediated populism, attempting to assess its links to contemporary understandings of democracy.

(3) Entrepreneurial Democracy: Skilling and the Production of Citizen-Subjects for the “New India” (2015 – 16): 

In India, the rise of the “apolitical subject” that has marked neo-liberal orders across the globe has been accompanied by large-scale state efforts to skill the growing numbers of educated unemployed youth.  Using visual documentation and ethnography of a ‘skill development’ scheme in rural Kerala, we map new dispensations of “entrepreneurial citizenship” in contemporary India, showing how new state-society relations reshape the targets and agents of political reform and renewal.