‘Researching the Contemporary’ 2015

The Course on ‘Researching the Contemporary’ will be held at CSDS in the months of July-August 2015 (only for selected participants). This cross-disciplinary Course will critically examine the formation of the contemporary and its multiple histories, ideologies, forms and affects. The three courses offered will enable participants to familiarize themselves with concepts, theories and methods that help analyse the contemporary.  These include:

The Work of Theory: Thinking Across Traditions

The term ‘theory’ immediately brings to mind names such as Plato, Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Marx and so on.  That is, theory appears as a particular body of philosophical thought coming to us from Europe and globally relevant in its scope. To us theory therefore comes as a given body of knowledge, as though the essentials have already been settled. In this course, we shift our attention away from western theory as such and ask the prior question – namely, what it is to theorize, what is the work that theorization accomplishes.  We discuss the practice of theorizing by passing through histories and experiences of the global south as well as through alternative theoretical possibilities inherent in other traditions, be they Chinese or Latin American or Arabo-Persian. By using the phrase ‘thinking across traditions’, we imply that good theory and new theory must shake off its dependence on a single, uncontaminated metaphysical tradition and on a single, dominant historical narrative of modernity.

Course Instructors: Aditya NigamPrathama BanerjeeRakesh Pandey

The Urban Experience

This course shall focus on the making of the urban modern in India and its relationship to theories of global urbanism. Students will be introduced both to the formal dimensions of city making and the unintended consequences of modernist plans and technological transformations. Changing urban spatial imaginaries, as these are inflected by gender, environmental, health and aesthetic concerns, shall be discussed. Attention will be paid to the place of the rural within contemporary urban imaginaries.

Course Instructor: Awadhendra Sharan

Media & Materiality: The Digital Sensorium

The 'digital' has become the lens through which life is increasingly being framed: the personal and the political, money and consumption, memory and distraction: the list is endless. By mobilising media and cultural theory, this course seeks to understand the place of the digital within a larger debate on materiality. Themes include the media event, circulation, memory, the political and violence.

Course Instructor: Ravi Sundaram