Title: Mediated Cultures, Political Discourses, and the Celebrity: Perspectives from India
Edited by Swapna Gopinath, Ramna Walia, and Rutuja Deshmukh
Email: (celebritypoliticscfp /at/ gmail.com)
The new millennium has witnessed radical transformations in the political, economic and cultural ecosystems in India, with a distinct paradigm shift towards a neoliberal normative system. This shift has altered the sensibilities of the Indian citizen and one witnesses this in the cultural practices and texts, cinema being the most popular and influential among them. Cinema, in its production, circulation and reception has evolved, corresponding to these changes as well as the massive changes in the communication networks, SVOD platforms and similar digital spaces invading the homes of the citizens. Film icons are no longer superheroes confined to the theaters and film magazines, they are omnipresent, compressed into the spaces of mobile screens and spread out to humongous proportions on the huge interactive screens on the streets. Film celebrities in India, especially South India, have successfully emerged as political leaders, successfully contesting in elections and establishing themselves as political icons. MGR, Jayalalitha, NTR – are some of the names to be mentioned in this context. Their screen persona helped them in transitioning themselves into active politics. They expressed their political identity with clarity and proved capable of political leadership. Contemporary India functions differently, with the political leaders using social media platforms and other digital media spaces to assert their presence and to propagate their agenda and identity.
In the global mediascape, the intersection between film celebrities, media, and politics in film industries like Hollywood has led to generative accounts of an ongoing “culture war.” Digital media’s propensity to share, connect, and disseminate images at a mind-numbing speed has led to the commodification of the public sphere where the world of politics, citizenry, and entertainment converge. In India, political figures like Narendra Modi have become celebrities, with global social media visibility, while film celebrities publicly engage in political narratives of resistance or endorsements. Political narratives on governance, war, and history have become staple genres in both textual and extratextual sites.
This volume will explore the mobilization of the figure of the film celebrity in the last two decades through hagiographies, implicit and allegorical plot lines on state policies and ideological rhetoric that present the complex confluence of patronage and security on the one hand, and narratives of protest emerging out of Dalit and Adivasi cinemas on the other. By studying this coupling of celebrity and politics in its regional cinemas, seemingly incommensurate accounts emerge out of the excesses of cinema. In the global capitalist circuits of production and consumption of celebrity image and branding, Indian film stars have restructured their public image to suit these circuits. We aim to bring forth film celebrity branding and its connectedness to the nationalist discourse and hyperconnected global economy.
The text will use a mixed methods approach, with chapters exploring the concept both qualitatively and quantitatively. Celebrities emerging as political personae with their mediated presence in the public sphere, both online and offline will be studied in depth, not just in the larger Indian perspective, but also from the regional spaces, which are dynamic, politically and culturally, with the potential to shape the discursive practices that define the subcontinent. The work will look at these macro and micro paradigm shifts in the public sphere, post-2000 – the narratives built around film celebrities and their political branding styles, the dialectics of socio-cultural changes and media dynamics and so on.
This edited text will have 11 chapters, including an introduction. The contributors will include established scholars as well as research scholars pursuing Film Studies and Celebrity Studies. We propose to send out a CFP in order to identify papers of quality along with a couple of papers from reputed scholars, on request.
Chapters are expected to address but are not limited to:
- Social media activism and celebrity culture
- Fandom, media, and politics
- Media regulation and celebrity politics
- Celebrity, politics, and digital networks
- Language, representation, and celebrity politics
- Instagram’s visual culture and the star image
- Film personalities as political influencers
- Hate speech, rhetoric and the star image
- Film stars and acts of resistance in the context of contemporary India
- Subaltern/Dalit representations and political branding
- Tweeting political agendas and the film persona
- Regional political identities and film industry
Swapna Gopinathis an Associate Professor of Film and Cultural Studies at Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune, India. She is a Fulbright fellow and has completed postdoctoral research on Urban spatiality and ideological dimensions in India. She writes on film and culture, contextualizing contemporary India. Her work on historicals in popular Hindi cinema, co-edited with Ms. Rutuja Deshmukh, will be released by Routledge, in December 2022.
Ramna Waliais a scholar of film and digital media. She earned a doctoral degree in Media Studies from the Department of Radio-Television-Film, The University of Texas at Austin, and an M.Phil in Cinema Studies from the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU. She is currently working on a book project that looks at the spatialized material history of inter-regional networks of video and digital productions in India. Her research interests include digital and video cultures, technology, counter-histories, and film recycling and remakes. She has published in peer-reviewed journals like Bioscope, Synoptique, Studies in South Asian Film and Media and has recently published a chapter in a book titled, Industrial Networks and Cinemas of India (Routledge 2021).
Rutuja Deshmukhis a visiting faculty of Cinema at Savitribai Phule Pune University. She also teaches Film and Culture at FLAME University, Pune. She is currently a Research Fellow at Symbiosis International University, Pune. Her research areas include popular cinema, popular cultures, and questions of gender and representation at the intersection of neoliberalism. Her work has previously appeared in Economic and Political Weekly, The Feminist Review, The Wire, FemAsia, Countercurrents, and HimalSouthAsian. She is the author of a book chapter – “Film Viewing and Netflix: An Enquiry into Politics of the Internet and Visual Pleasure”(forthcoming Palgrave). Another book chapter on Food and Women and Food during the pandemic, was published by Harmattan Paris. She is co-editing a book with Dr Swapna Gopinath (forthcoming Routledge India) on Historical Films in Bombay Cinema.
The proposed volume has provisional support from Bloomsbury as a part of their book series on Asian Celebrity and Fandom Studies. Series editors Dr Jian Xu and Professor Sean Redmond have expressed keen interest in this volume, and we will be submitting a formal proposal by the end of the year.
Please submit an abstract of 500 words and a short biographical note (50 words) to (celebritypoliticscfp /at/ gmail.com) by 30th September 2022.If selected for publication, full papers will be due around 15 June 2023.