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Accepted Paper:

A Song from "Why, oh Moon": revisiting concepts of "indigenous" media using an ethnography of a popular Santali video clip  
Markus Schleiter (University of Tübingen)

Paper short abstract:

Together with artists of the "indigenous" community of the Santal, I participated in the production of a music video album in India. I will ask how this kind of ethnographic encounter can trigger a need to critically question presumptions about "indigenous" media.

Paper long abstract:

In the debate on the role of "indigenous media", authors consider such media to be a fruitful means of fostering local traditions and values (see Wilson & Stewart 2008), without engaging with the confinements of the category of "indigenous" media or the ambivalences of the concept of "indigeneity" (Li 2001, Ginsburgh 2002, Shah 2010, Forte 2010). I will acknowledge the costumes, tunes and instruments such as the flute as popularized audio-visual elements of Santal "tradition" in the album "Why, oh Moon" (Chak Cho Chando). However, my ethnography on the media practices of producing the songs reveals that these "markers" of tradition mainly result from the artists' distancing themselves from their own culture. I will argue that when indigenous pop songs are evaluated as being based on mediatized traits of "indigenous culture", the album can truly be part of a revitalization of Santal culture. At the same time, however, to young Santal people a hit song on the album becomes a means of evoking the culturally specific emotions of joint village dances and their contiguous forms of romancing, which run counter to a conservative understanding of Santal values. As a consequence, I will reflect on the extent to which my "involvement" in the production (and consumption) of "indigenous" media allows me to identify the field of the cultural production (Bourdieu 1992) of such media, their disconnection from belonging and community, and, concurrently, the pitfalls of the category of "indigenous" media.

Panel P065
Reassembling the visual: from visual legacies to digital futures [VANEASA]
  Session 1