Social Scientist. v 28, no. 322-323 (Mar-April 2000) p. 71.


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SANGEETA DATTA*

Globalisation and Representations of Women in Indian Cinema

The framework of much of the discussion in this paper will be provided by concepts such as the nation state, the public sphere and theories investigating the dynamic between the global and the local. Nationhood or a coherent nation state is a concept that exists only in fiction. In these turbulent times the concept of a cultural identity or a form of personalised nationality has evolved as a more portable and useful term. The importance of the media, of film, of film and television images in fixing or directing these new identities and their implications on gender, both within and across borders, will be the focus of my paper.

With satellite television, proliferation of videotape and dubbing of American films - a flood of information, images and sounds have opened on the market. Yet this is in no way the ideal democratisation of the public sphere. There is increasing concentration of media ownership and a few elite gatekeepers control distribution and relay. The question that arises is - is it ever going to be possible to have mutually compatible public spheres and could these global media flows thereby feed a progressive political process? Academic debate should move from purely abstract analyses to a more active engagement with kinds of representation - modalities of image, forms of speech and address to viewers.

An imaginary national identity and sense of belonging emerges with modernity and with the capitalism that made possible increasing dissemination of newspapers and the novel form, in a common language linked to national identity. This is the question of how daily

Research Fellow, Centre for Culture, Development and Environment, Asian and African Studies, University of Sussex.

Social Scientist, Vol. 28, Nos. 3- 4, March-April 2000



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