Accepted Paper:

Everyday technologies of Indian film: Bollywood meets Tibet in exile  


Timm Lau (University of Calgary)

Paper short abstract:

This paper investigates Indian popular-cultural media as technology, through the lens of the Tibetan diaspora. It proposes a wider understanding of everyday technologies of Bollywood film that extends into the availability of representations and objects in the marketplace, and social practices of consumption, adornment and creative display.

Paper long abstract:

Tibetans in the diaspora in India construct identities through which Indians appear as radical 'other'. Yet, Bollywood films and other Indian popular-cultural media are immensely popular among Tibetans in India, and Indian television has had a significant impact on the historicity and cultural imagination of Tibetans in India.

In this paper, I will explore how the everyday technologies specific to Bollywood media work to not only influence cultural imaginations of beauty and romance, but ultimately to offer alternative 'technologies of self' to diasporic Tibetans within the field of tension maintained by identity politics in exile. In my analysis, the mundane sense of 'technology', for example as Indian cable television programming and TV sets, is expanded to include wider existing markets, as well as sophisticated practices of consumption, discourse and creative display among Tibetan youths in India. These practices culminate in spectacular "multi-cultural shows" organised by Tibetan youths, in which both Tibetan folklore and Bollywood dance routines are performed and consumed.

The paper demonstrates that the everyday technologies of Bollywood film extend into social practices of consumption, adornment and creative display, and offer a creative imagination of the Indian 'other' through the Tibetan self.

Panel W071
Media, technology, and knowledge cultures: anthropological perspectives on issues of diversity, mutuality and exclusion