Ravi Sundaram

In 2000 Ravi Sundaram co- founded the Sarai programme at the CSDS along with Ravi Vasudevan and the Raqs Media Collective. Sarai grew to become one of India’s best-known experimental and critical research sites on media. Along with colleagues, Sundaram co-edited the Sarai Reader series, The Public Domain (2001), The Cities of Everyday Life (2002), Shaping Technologies (2003), Crisis Media (2004).

Sundaram wrote Pirate Modernity: Media Urbanism in Delhi (2010) and edited No Limits: Media Studies from India (Delhi, 2015). His recent book Technopharmacology (with Joshua Neves, Aleena Chia and Susanna Paasonen) came out from Minnesota and Meson Press (2022). He is currently finishing his next book project, Events and Affections: post-public media circulation. 

Sundaram’s essays have been translated into various languages in India, Asia, and Europe.

Conceptual Themes

Pirate Modernity

For the last few decades Asia, Africa and Latin America are increasingly shaped by low cost media, which has blurred older boundaries between technology, culture and everyday life. Media has become the infrastructural condition of living, rather than as distinct, regulated sites like the cinema theater. Sundaram argues that this context of ‘pirate modernity’, is a grey zone between informality and legal regimes.  While the practice of pirate modernity produces radical conditions of insubordination within the South, it also brings subaltern populations into the visible domain of new media industries. More that just represent a contemporary condition, pirate modernity constantly creates new conditions of possibility. Sundaram’s book connects debates in cultural theory, media anthropology, modernism, and urbanism.

Current Research

For the past two decades new forms of media circulation have actively destabilized older models of governance; blurring and confusing the distinctions between the legal-non legal, private-public, and received models of the public. In his current book project, Sundaram is  interested in the effects of  volatile, media-inflected sensory infrastructures of the contemporary, as well as the new shadow zones of the political.  Sundaram’s essay ‘Post- Postcolonial Sensory Infrastructure’ intimates some of these questions. Other recent essays deal with the proliferation of visceral media, and new collectives and crowd formations in the contemporary.

Email: ravis[at]sarai.net

Select Publications (Click to Read)

Post-Postcolonial Sensory Infrastructure

Publicity, Transparency, and the Circulation Engine: The Media Sting in India