South Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Auditory Mutations: Community Media (and Sonic Geographies) in Contemporary India

Friday, July 6
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Cypress, New Building

My paper seeks to investigate and bring to the fore a distinctly hyperlocal constellation of voice-based media technology platforms—Mobile Vaani, CGNet Swara and Bultoo (Bluetooth) Radio—set up across the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh in India. Premised on the seemingly obsolete IVRS (Interactive Voice Response Systems) technology or Bluetooth exchange, and designed primarily for feature phone users in less developed regions, these community media platforms bring together telephony and circulation in a way that is markedly unlike the inattentive, neurophysiological and mood-driven digital exchange through smart devices. Whereas Mobile Vaani follows a missed call system (the user can place a missed call, and listen to or leave audio messages upon being called back by the server), Bultoo Radio comprises door to door sharing of locally produced community radio programs (songs, grievances, news, etc.). The paper shall explore the techno-aesthetics and systemic valences of platforms that enfold (in the Heideggerian sense) what a feature phone affords and signpost novel ways to map print disability in a largely illiterate country like India. Whether they emanate out of community radio (Mobile Vaani) or proffer newer forms of auditory exchange and listening (Bultoo Radio), these media ecologies speak of mediatic and circulatory mutations, of moderated yet affectively charged sensory infrastructures (Sundaram, 2015), and of how “communities of listening” (Duggal, 2015) constantly invent and reinvent themselves.

Mehak Sawhney

SARAI, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, India

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3 - Auditory Mutations: Community Media (and Sonic Geographies) in Contemporary India



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