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Cold War Technopolitics and Indian Social Science: The Curious Case of "Media" - 8 June 2022

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The importance of economists in Indian development is widely recognized, but the work of other social scientists with respects to key aspects of such "development," e.g. the expansions of the communications infrastructure, has strangely received little attention.

Although communication, as idea, discipline and technology, was prominent in India’s postcolonial developmentalism (the high point was in the mid 1970s, as Arvind Rajagopal will discuss), the concept has gone missing from histories of postcolonial expertise and interdisciplinary social science formation - the term "media" often takes its place, as if the latter term required no definition.

Arvind Rajagopal's paper tries to understand this strange disappearance/substitution by placing the mediating work of indigenous experts in historical context. It asks what kind of intellectual work on the part of Indian social scientists, that accompanied the "communication revolution" in India, enabled such a development.


Arvind Rajagopal is Professor of Media Studies at NYU and is an affiliated faculty in the Departments of Sociology and Social and Cultural Analysis.

He has won awards from the MacArthur and Rockefeller Foundations, and has held fellowships at the Institute or Center of Advanced Studies at Helsinki, Princeton, Stanford, and at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.

Recent essays include Postcommunist aesthetics, "Communicationism." and Notes on the advertisement and the advertising agency in India's twentieth century. His latest book is under contract with Duke University Press, on a global genealogy of media theory. In addition to his scholarly writing, he has also published in forums such as The LA Review of Books, and in newspapers and periodicals.

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