Characterized by a mobile phone led connectivity boom and the cheapest data prices in the world (McCarthy 2019), South Asia has emerged as a region with the greatest potential for the future growth of Internet users. Indeed, as such, the area is not only central to any attempts at imagining the future of digital media globally, but it also constitutes a fertile territorial and cultural space for scholarly inquiry into the various dimensions of expanding digital life in the region. Consequently, this pre-conference focuses on exploring digital developments and their political, economic, social and cultural implications in the context of postcolonial South Asia and its global diaspora. The pre-conference draws inspiration from scholars who have sought to dewesternize digital media studies through their granular and interdisciplinary accounts of varied aspects of digital life in non-western countries. It is also grounded in the notion that the historical, political and social specificities of postcolonial South Asia necessitate the production of knowledge on digital culture— both conceptual and empirical— that explores the heterogeneities and complexities of the diverse nations that constitute the region. We envisage this pre-conference to be a forum for illuminating the varied dialectical forces that are at play in South Asia in shaping digital culture in ways that are similar to but also quite different from other parts of the world.
In pursuit of these objectives, we invite submissions that cover a broad range of topics set in South Asia, including, but not limited to scholarly areas such as:
- Issues of digital access, connectivity and inequality (social asymmetries of caste, gender, sexuality, religion, language, and class)
- Online mobilization by activist communities to protest inequities and advocate for social change
- Nature and implications for sovereignty of governance and infrastructure regimes emerging across the region, particularly as they relate to data collection and commodification, security and privacy
- The political economy of digital media and the impact of digital technologies on the mainstream media landscape in entertainment and news media
- Rise of new genres of informational and artistic representation— including parody, satire, and humor—in online spaces such as YouTube
- Role of digital and social media in the transformation of contemporary politics, including campaigns and elections
- Transformations in the business and content of journalism, the rise of fake news, misinformation as well as hate and extreme speech
- Vernacular community formation in local, national and transnational/diasporic South Asian digital spaces
- New transnational digital circuits of cultural production and consumption—fueled by affinities of caste, gender, class and sexuality—within and beyond South Asia
- Extended abstract due: Monday, January 20th, 2020
- Final decisions on acceptance: Friday, February 14th, 2020
Please make sure you include a title for your abstract. We request you to anonymize your document by removing all identifying information from it. Very poorly written abstracts as well as those that do not relate to South Asia will be automatically rejected. Abstract submissions will be reviewed and final decisions communicated by February 14th, 2020. Please submit your extended abstracts to conference coordinator Dr. Roshni Susana Verghese at roshnisusana[@]gmail.com. Based on the volume and the quality of submissions, we intend to explore a potential thematic publication of pre-conference materials as a special issue in a journal or as an edited volume.
Registration fees: With financial support from institutional sponsors and ICA Divisions, the registration fees for the pre-conference will be under $20. The registration fees will cover refreshments for two breaks and lunch. This is a flat fee for anyone who wishes to present at or simply attend the pre-conference (without a presentation), including all ICA student and faculty members. There are no prerequisites for submitting abstracts, registering for and participating in the pre-conference. All attendees will need to create an ICA profile to register.
Finally, we expect all presenters will attend the pre-conference event for the full day. If you are traveling from overseas, we advise you to arrive on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, and make appropriate accommodation arrangements for that night.