Sarai Reader Series
Sarai Readers that are published annually, focusing each time on a new and different theme, have become important aids for those who wish to explore the frontiers of the world of ideas and deal with the range of new issues that confront us today. The Reader is a unique product, even in terms of form: neither book nor journal, it is a purely experimental enterprise that combines contributions that range from the academic to the literary, from the purely textual to the visual, from detailed ethnographic reports to fairly dense theoretical writings. In fact, it will not be an exaggeration to say that the Sarai Reader embodies in every sense, the collapse of all boundaries of form, style and genre."
Aditya Nigam, Seminar, #553, September 2005.
Turbulence clarifies its intentions with R Krishna’s opening piece, “The Time of Turbulence”. From that point on, the collection sucks the reader into a compelling and chaotic world of pirates, profiteers, hyper-textual encounters and “modernity’s fractally germinating, ever questioning bastards”. ...Sarai Reader 06, like the rest of the series, works precisely because the contributions seem to have been edited by a thoughtful and light hand. Each text speaks out for itself, unburdened by the baggage of its neighbours. The Reader’s single underlying theme, if there is one, is probably best summed up by Berlin-based computer wizard Frank Rieger’s closing text. “If we don’t enjoy taking on the system, we will get tired of the contest,” he notes. “And they will win. So instead of being angry, ideological and obdurate, let’s be funny, flexible and creative.”
Fluid Dynamics: A prediction for the 24th Century
Siddharth Anand, Himal Southasian, January 2007
The Reader brings together an assortment of voices to consider the fraught relationship between ‘Bare Acts’ – the textual essence of legal codes, or the very letter of the law – and ‘bare acts’ – the range of acts of interpretation, negotiation, disputation and witnessing that reinforce or subvert the law. It is an ambitious attempt to map the relationship between words that seek to exert normative force (whether in the guise of formal legal codes or otherwise) and the world. In a collage-like rendition, it offers incisive accounts of this ceaseless, mutually constitutive dynamic in a staggering variety of contexts – urban studies, media, technology, environment, gender, migration, social movement politics, etc.
Legitimate Transgressions: Bare Acts Between Words and Worlds
Rahul Rao, The Oxonian Reviw of Books, hilary 2005. volume 4. issue 3
More reviews of Sarai Reader 05: Bare Acts
The 2004 Reader produced by Sarai, a New Media initiative based at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, is devoted to the dual themes of crisis reporting in the media, and the crisis within the media when it comes to reportage of violence...Contributors to the Reader write from surprising places — cinemas, libraries, law courts, dam sites, art galleries, prison — where people confront fear and gain a modicum of mastery over it...As a unique experiment in India’s over-institutionalized academic and activist landscape, Crisis/Media deserves to be widely circulated...”
Living with War
Ananya Vajpeyi, August 13, 2004, The Telegraph, Kolkata.
Reader 03...explores the fields of intermedia art and software culture, setting them in the context of the creative and conceptual definitional blur between art, science and technology. In the perspicacious texts by curators and cultural workers such as Pauline Van Mourik Broekman, Amanda McDonald Crowley and Andreas Broeckmann, we trace the interplay, in these fields, between utopian political belief and ludic aesthetic impulse, between a scientific duty towards research and a commitment towards the performance of art.
An Eye on History, Facing the Future
Nancy Adajania, The Hindu, Sunday, August 24, 2003
"The Everyday is embodied in the Sarai Reader's very form. Interspersed visuals and text, diary entries, journal pages, details of routines and journeys, list serves and photomontages of streets and signs convey a sense of the proliferation of experience in the urban. The Reader seeks to hold onto this palpable sense of multitude and multiform by providing numerous entry points into the city, presented in different voices. But reading across its various sections, one starts to glean important thematics in current understandings of the city in its contemporary guise. Theoretically central to the argument is the concept of the urban as phenomenologically embedded and networked. That is, reading city life in the repetitive movements of bodies across space, in the encounter with streams of mediated and embodied impressions that produce a particular, desiring and distracted’ mode of being, pushed along and around by larger more invisible forces, regimes of production, domination and desire...In the Indian context, where there has been little focus on such a modern city, the Reader makes a valuable contribution in its collection of essays that delineate the particularities of our own urban space
...The Sarai Reader is an ambitious and successful attempt at negotiating the bewildering contemporary and makes many powerful arguments.
Inside the City
Diya Mehra, Biblio : Vol VII, Nos. 7 & 8, July - August 2002
"Sarai Reader 01: The Public Domain is a creatively curated collection of essays, memoirs, observations, quotations and photographs, original and 'recycled', that begin with Delhi but end up in places as far afield as Uttar Pradesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Yugoslavia and Silicon Valley. The well conceived digital-in-the-dirt aesthetic and the many short extracts and reflections allow for near-instant gratification; but sections on subjects such as "Bodies in the Digital Domain" and "Software as Culture" also provide an overview of some of the concepts and new kinds of labour models that are having a crucial impact on the way that many individuals are re-conceiving their relationship to society."
Of Hackers & Crackers
Rana Dasgupta, Biblio ; Vol VI, Nos. 7&6, November-December 2001