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Censorship in South Asia

Cultural Regulation from Sedition to Seduction

Edited by Raminder Kaur and William Mazzarella

Publication Year: 2009

Censorship in South Asia offers an expansive and comparative exploration of cultural regulation in contemporary and colonial South Asia. These provocative essays by leading scholars broaden our understanding of what censorship might mean -- beyond the simple restriction and silencing of public communication -- by considering censorship's productive potential and its intimate relation to its apparent opposite, "publicity." The contributors investigate a wide range of public cultural phenomena, from the cinema to advertising, from street politics to political communication, and from the adjudication of blasphemy to the management of obscenity.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. v

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pp. vii

The origins of this volume are shrouded in the mists of the distant past— November 2002, to be precise, when some of the contributors to the present volume assembled at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in New Orleans to participate in a panel on censorship in South Asia. ...

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1. Between Sedition and Seduction: Thinking Censorship in South Asia

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pp. 1-28

Censorship has been getting a lot of publicity in South Asia recently. The mid-1990s alone saw a veritable carnival of controversies over the line between the acceptable and the unacceptable in public culture. By way of example, one might point to the uproar in 1994 over the alleged obscenity of Madhuri Dixit’s song-and-dance sequence “Choli ke peeche kya hai?” ...

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2. Iatrogenic Religion and Politics

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pp. 29-62

Firstly, iatrogenics. This is a concept and process which will help explicate how it is that reflexive interventions in culture themselves produce culture. In this chapter I will investigate the impact of the colonial censorship of images on the contemporary political constitution of India. ...

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3. Making Sense of the Cinema in Late Colonial India

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pp. 63-86

In late 1927 or early 1928, the American Trade Commissioner in India, Charles B. Spofford, Jr., submitted an extraordinary memo to the Indian Cinematograph Committee (ICC), a commission of inquiry into the cinema appointed by the colonial government of India in the autumn of 1927.1 ...

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4. The Limits of Decency and the Decency of Limits: Censorship and the Bombay Film Industry

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pp. 87-122

In July 2002, veteran Hindi filmmaker Vijay Anand abruptly resigned as chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification—more commonly known as the Censor Board—even before completing his first year of a three-year term. His resignation provided the basis for a cover story about film censorship ...

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5. Anxiety, Failure, and Censorship in Indian Advertising

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pp. 123-139

As commentators have suggested (Breckenridge 1995, 6–7), the explosion of the Indian middle classes and the advent of consumerism have created an anxiety that is being addressed by a variety of specialists. The category of “consumer” is contingent on people’s being addressed as such by the Indian mass media. ...

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6. Nuclear Revelations

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pp. 140-171

More often than not, debates on censorship fall between the supposed opposites of authoritarianism and liberalism, with both polities invoked as ideal types. A focus on nuclear power, particularly as it applies to armament but also in many cases to power stations for civilian use, makes these political dynamics particularly stark. ...

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7. Specters of Macaulay: Blasphemy, the Indian Penal Code, and Pakistan’s Postcolonial Predicament

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pp. 172-205

The publication of cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Muhammed by a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, in 2005 and the ensuing outrage of Muslims, who protested and demonstrated around the world against what they perceived as the vilest blasphemy, revived a history in which blasphemy accusations are understood as an irruption of medieval irrationality ...

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8. After the Massacre: Secrecy, Disbelief, and the Public Sphere in Nepal

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pp. 206-234

On the evening of Friday, June 1, 2001, the deadliest royal massacre in modern history took place in the Narayanhiti Palace in Kathmandu when the king of Nepal, Bir Birendra Bikram Shah Dev, and almost his entire family were gunned down at point-blank range during a private family gathering. ...

List of Contributors

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pp. 235-236


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pp. 237-243

E-ISBN-13: 9780253003959
E-ISBN-10: 0253003954
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253353351

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 19 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2009