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Call For Abstracts – The Act of Media: Workshop on Law, Media And Technology in South Asia


The Act of Media: Workshop on Law, Media And Technology in South Asia, 8th to 10th January 2016, The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi.


Call for Abstracts

The traditional understanding of ‘media law’ has gradually given way to approaches that show us that ‘law’ and ‘media’ are not separate domains but constantly overlap, define and redefine each other. The law seeks to define and regulate media practice, inciting a discursive space which brings media, its relationship to social order and subversion, its materiality and evidentiary status, into the very folds of the law. And the law is relayed, debated and disputed through media publicity and tested by media acts that regularly challenge legal regulation.

Following in this trajectory, this workshop will explore the historical relationship between law and media, as it is constituted in culture, politics and performance and on the shifting ground of sovereignty in South Asia.

The period leading up to the Partition, the framing of the Indian Constitution and the establishment of two sovereign nation states in the subcontinent, was an important reference point for the debates that occurred round the law, and its relationship to the circulation of information, media and free expression. In India, the debates in the Constituent Assembly and during the First Amendment to the Constitution are testament to how concerns around the political viability of the nation and public order rode roughshod over concerns of civil liberties and freedom of speech and expression.

Arguably, we have transited to a new political setting, in which the earlier concentration of power in the sovereign state and its legal institutions have become substantially complicated by the transformation of the media sphere. This workshop will aim to explore the role of the law and censorship through, as William Mazzarella puts it, a theory of performative dispensations, when political authority can no longer reside in the physical body of a singular sovereign and finds itself in the anonymous space of mass publicity.

It is with this background in mind that The Act of Media workshop will explore the histories of technological development in the subcontinent and the manner in which both the promise of, and anxieties around technology have framed legal discourse and regulation.

The workshop will examine how media-enabled subjectivities produce new sites of departure in the law. The shift from theatre to cinema; cinema to video; and video to satellite television have been productive sites for law’s engagement with technology. The understanding of traditional notions of sovereignty, jurisdiction, and a public sphere defined by rational discourse have been challenged by the contemporary post Web 2.0 moment and the sheer speed, reach and inter-media circulation that this moment has enabled, breaking the bubble sphere of the old Internet. The increasing use of cell phone enabled technologies, and the evolution of cultural practices around the cell phone, pose a massive challenge to older forms of control, policing and the terms of political engagement. The workshop will explore debates, both in South Asia and globally, around trolling, hate speech, violence, the ‘dark net’ and ‘unsocial media’, and the emergence of new infrastructures of governance and surveillance.

The Act of Media workshop will bring together law and media practitioners, legal and media theorists, scholars from the law and social sciences, media and visual studies and media anthropology. The workshop will be a space to throw open and explore new ideas and work in these fields, and engage with ongoing research in this area, while keeping in mind the nuances of legal and media practice.

Workshop themes will include:

1. Evidence, Truth and Legal Procedure
2. Histories of Media, Law and Technology
3. Law and the Media Event
4. Censors and their Sensibilities
5. Consent, Technology and Gendered Violence
6. Circulation, Virality, Rumour

The Sarai Programme invites submission of abstracts for ‘The Act of Media’ workshop. Abstracts should not exceed 300 words, and should be sent to by 15th October, 2015, with the subject heading ‘Proposal for The Act of Media Workshop.’ Authors of the selected abstracts will be notified by 1st November 2015.

The workshop will be held from 8th to 10th January 2016, at Sarai-CSDS, 29 Rajpur Road, Delhi. The Sarai Programme will cover three days of accommodation for outstation participants. In addition, participants from India will be eligible for travel support.

For Further details please go to the following link