11. Hypertextual Poetry: A Study of MSN Poetry Communities
Nitoo Das, Delhi
I propose to study the extremely popular MSN Poetry Communities to investigate changing concepts of poetry according to recent models of hypertextuality. Can anonymous poetry, or rather, poetry written under interesting screen names or "nicks", change the way poetry is traditionally understood (as a lyric/subjective medium)? Is this self-naming of the poet-persona an attempt to renegotiate the ordinarily held assumptions of the poetically created artefact as being stitched to the body and the imagination of the individual who created the text? The identities that are fostered in cyberspace, especially in such poetry communities, compel us to reconsider definitions of the term 'virtual community'. Do these poetry sites manage to erase geographical/cartographical identities? Do they show any gender-based separation? How do the ideological structures of the poetic texts manifest themselves in spaces of anonymity or constructed identities?
Recent studies on Hypertext Theory have problematised concepts like the physicality of the written text, as it exists in words and lines and the intelligibility of the text (the meaning and content behind the empirical text setting). In the MSN Poetry Groups that this research seeks to study, the incorporation of annotative links, attachments to enhance readings, multimedia projections of poetry, radically subvert the generic constraints of traditional poetry . The power of the linear text, the publishing industry, the superiority of the published author, all these hierarchies are almost dismissed in the sites that the study wishes to take up for analysis. The study desires to see how releasing (or maybe, how fettering) these dismissals will be to both the cyberpoet and the cyberreader and try to reconfigure the new slippery space between technology and poetry.
12. Women and their Spatial Narratives in the City of Ahmedabad
Madhavi Desai, Ahmedabad
Situated on the banks of Sabarmati River, the city of Ahmedabad has its roots in medieval times. It has a historic inner city core and extensive modern development all around. The seventh-largest city in India, it has a population close to 4 million today. The basic premise of this research project is that although the city is theoretically available to all citizens, women are not fully able to physically and culturally participate in it. Focusing on the middle class, this research attempts to document the spatial activities and experiences of women in Ahmedabad in the traditional as well as the modern sections. The objectives are as follows: To trace women's mobility patterns with respect to their neighbourhood and the city, within their social network and outside it; to analyse women's connection to urban institutions and services such as banks, post office, etc.; to understand women's activities and sites of leisure such as hotels, restaurants, parks and multiplexes; to look into women's notions of what a city is in terms of their image and descriptions. The research methods used will include observation, questionnaires and interviews; map analysis and perception drawings by women as well as library research.
13. The Growth of Print Nationalism and Assamese Identity in Two Early Assamese Magazines
Uddipan Dutta, Tezpur
The advent of print has an important influence upon the arbitrariness of the concept of language as well as nation. Print has taken the role of selecting, codifying and finally making a particular variety the standard variety in many of the world's languages, and thereby enabling the people to imagine to be the members of a particular speech community and later on to assert a common identity in a geographical space. This study is an attempt to deconstruct that complex dynamic in two of the earlier magazines of Assam in the colonial context of the province. Arunondoi, the first Assamese magazine, was an effort of the Baptist missionaries and in the common literary and historical discourse credited with revitalising the Assamese language which was almost at the verge of attrition due to the colonial policy of replacing Assamese with Bengali as a medium of instruction and language of the court. Jonaki, on the other hand, was the journal brought out in Calcutta in the year 1889 by Axomia Bhaxa Unnati Xadhin Xobha (Association for the Development of the Assamese Language), a students' body, with an ideological slant towards a linguistic nationalism. It was the endeavour undertaken by the native middle-class that had grown up with English education. The embryonic form of sub-national identity founded in the pages of Arunodoi matures in the pages of Jonaki. The study is an attempt to recount this journey from the unconscious to the conscious by reading through the pages of these two magazines.
14. Tale Tellers: Dastangoyee, The Culture of Storytelling in Urdu
Mahmood U. R. Farooqui, Delhi
This study seeks to explore dastans, oral fictional narratives of epical length that flourished in Urdu between the 18th and 20th centuries. While they drew on an older tradition in Arabic and Persian, the Urdu storytellers turned what were often one or two volumes of longish stories into adventures of mammoth proportions. Apart from being performed live they also came to be published to great popular acclaim. The most famous of these, the Dastan-e-Amir Hamza, ran to 46 volumes in total, each volume being a folio-sized book of around 1000 pages each, surely the longest fictional narrative in the world. This narrative's narrator-composers, the dastangos, were also oral performers of an extraordinary calibre who combined the arts of mimicry, ventriloquism, pantomime and voice control to keep their audiences enthralled and captured. Due to their sheer size, inventiveness and narrative power, dastans deeply influenced the nature of other fictional narratives, such as novels, theatre and cinema, that emerged later in North India.
This outstanding fictional and performative tradition has today so disappeared from our memory that not a single public library in India or Pakistan contains the entire Hamza collection. Critics and scholars of Urdu are content to highlight a few bowdlerized single volumes of dastans, produced under British patronage, while wholly and insufferably neglecting the larger body of work. This study seeks to highlight the uniqueness of dastans and dastangoi by collecting archival and photographic materials that might enable the tradition to occupy a rightful place as the most outstanding example of prose narration in Urdu.
15. The Culture of Crime Pulp Fiction in Bengal
Dev Kamal Ganguly, Hyderabad
The intention of the project is to look closely at those crime thrillers in Bangla which do not have the same recognition as Satyajit Ray's 'Feluda' or Sharadindu Bandyapadhyay's 'Byomkesh' series. These crime thrillers were published in numbers with their grotesquely illustrated covers, cheap quality printing, cheap paper; they were very cheaply priced too. They were a huge hit specially among the pre-adolescent age group even a decade ago. The books no longer exist in significant proportions, but they have left a series of questions relevant for cultural study: what made them successful in their good old days; how were the images of the crime, chase, violence etc., portrayed in those books related to the urban phenomena of the big city; why were they aimed at a particular age group; how did they relate to the tradition of pulp fiction in the West; what were the local inventions of technique in terms of narrating a crime thriller, if any; and how did they imbibe the pulse of their time.
The project wants to initiate these questions and intends to collect and document a representative body of these crime thrillers published. The research will focus on people related to the production of this genre and, by careful classification, scrutiny and analysis of the collected material, try to see this phenomenon in a larger context.
16. The Kashmiri Encounter in Delhi
Syed Bismillah Geelani, Delhi
It is said that the unique feature of Kashmir is Kashmiriyat. It is this Kashmiriyat which has bound together Hindus and Muslims for centuries and produced a syncretic culture in which Hindus and Muslims could live in harmony with each other. It was said that the armed movement in Kashmir tore apart this syncretic tradition and forced the Kashmiri Pandits to leave the Valley. The study will explore how far the Kashmiris, Hindus and Muslims, living in Delhi have preserved memories of this Kashmiriyat and ask if it binds them together in any way. It will also explore how the armed movement in Kashmir affects the life of these two communities living in exile in Delhi. It will document the real life experiences of these two communities, their encounters with each other, with Indians and with the Indian state.
17. Excavating Indian Experimental Film
Shai Heredia, Mumbai
This a research project that aims to identify and understand the neglected history of Indian experimental film. Experimental film here refers to filmmaking that explicitly sets out to develop innovative techniques for combining sight and sound, light and word. By challenging peoples' preconceptions and expectations of the moving image, these films tend to shift interests away from illusionism to reveal the aesthetic possibilities of the materials and processes of the film medium.
Over a period of 6 months, existing documentation on experimental film in India will be unearthed, a database of experimental films, filmmakers, technicians will be compiled, experimental filmmakers, historians and critics will be interviewed, an effort to create a library or archive of experimental films will be initiated, and a research paper offering analysis of the social, political and economic context of experimental film in India will be presented. The research collected will be made available on the Filter website for open and easy access to students, filmmakers and researchers and will also be submitted to Sarai, Delhi.
This project fulfills the need for, and interest in spaces designed to re-examine, critique, and reformulate the idea of film in India and ultimately create an environment for active discussion around Indian experimental film, past and present.
18. Awazein FM Radio kee (Voices of FM Radio)
S. M. Irfan, Delhi
The proposal attempts to look at the role of FM in the life of Delhi and its satellite areas. The two aspects of this world are, (a) the world of the radio jockey, and (b) the effect on the listeners, but the proposal concerns itself with the former aspect. The attempt will be to analyse the "content" produced by these jockeys, which are interspersed with the film songs. Questions such as whether there is any internal dialogue on between the anchor and the listener, do these anchors think of radio in terms of social responsibility, is there a gendered perspective in so far as the jockeys are concerned, what "newness" there is about this new dialogue, and whether the anchor believes that the listener needs to be catered to individually as a separate cultural unit.
The project will be based on taped interviews with presenters and their families and recordings of their live shows.
19. Work Culture in Fast Food Chains
Syed Khalid Jamal and Amit Ghosh, Delhi
In preliminary research for Sarai's Student Stipendship programme, the researchers looked at working conditions and considered the relationship of employees of fast food chains with their work place, documenting their desires and frustrations mapped their life histories through a process of active listening and participation. During this research, certain fascinating tropes of the fast food profession, such as "smiling" and "mobility", were articulated.
The "smile" has its own economics embedded at the heart of the food and service industry, of which fast food chains are a small chunk. From the training period to the decisive moments of promotion, the "smile" is considered the single most important factor determining the fate of the employee in the business. It can aptly be said that "smile" is a product which is delivered to the customers at the point-of-purchase. Like burgers and pizzas, employees are trained to deliver this good as efficiently and effectively as any other delicacy mentioned in the menu.
Mobility in the work force is very integral to the fast food chain industry and forms the important aspect of this research project. Often employees are transferred from one department or a sub-department to another, without any prior communication, consent or feedback from the employer. This either leads to frustration or relief, depending on whether an employee is transferred from a high-stress department (such as the kitchen or housekeeping) to a relatively low-stress one (such as servicing), or vice versa.
The research will go further into these aspects and consider the role of gender in the work of fast food chains.
20. Nautanki Shahar mein: Audyogik Nagri Kanpur mein Lok Manch Kala ke Vikas wa Patan ka Anveshan
(Nautanki in the Industrial City of Kanpur: A Historical Study)
Archana Jha, Delhi
This work will explore the conditions of production and popularity of the nautanki form in the colonial and post colonial period in Kanpur. Before nautankis witnessed a decline in the 1970s, Kanpur was considered an important city for these theatrical performances and, in fact, Kanpuri baijis were solicited by other areas on special occasions such as town fairs. It would be intersting to look at the world of raises, akharabazes and the migrant and rural workers who patronised naut ankis. What were the thematic ranges, typical performance structures and genres? Why was song and dance so important to this form and how was it different from theatre?