“Globalization is based on the premise of inequality,” said Prof. Swapna Banerjee Guha of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. Delivering a speech titled “Globalizing Media and Culture: Emerging Issue”, Guha set the context of the discourse by stating that she is against globalization. The social, economic, political and cultural impact of globalization only increased inequalities at various levels, she said.
Globalization takes on three shapes:
1. Financial fluidity and deregulation, making entire financial systems volatile.
2. Technology change that impacts productions and affects labor.
3. Information revolution wherein the socio-cultural behavior of people is affected to reduce resistance and response initiative among people.
New media technologies create an everyday life praxis based on time-space compression. This time-space compression brings about a global remix of culture.
When talking about the potential of new media, the elephant in the room is always the power that a state has over the technology as a whole. A state can choose to take away from its people access to social media platforms, and there a myriad of ways in which corporate conglomerates can stop new media from being the democratic platform it currently is.
Guha points out Habermas’ statements about re-feudalization of the public sphere. Echoing Manuel Castels and John Downing, she states that even in the danger of refeudalism by conglomerates, we can’t rule out the power of new media in providing a platform for subaltern expression that doesn’t find space in mainstream media.
Social media, at the end of the day, is technology, and technology can be controlled, she points out.
Revealing that she was till recently completely against new media, the undeniable ability of these technologies in empowering the commoner evangelized her. In a world where the geopolitics of states ignore the people, people make their own geopolitical environment. These sites become the sites of change.
A supranational, post-territorial, anti-sovereign, anti-hegemonic social formation can be facilitated by new media, says Guha. She draws from Castels again who opines that if a resistance feel is networked farther, the effect too escalates.
She cites the example of how the people of Phillipines used mobile phones and alternative media platforms to make enough noise about their corrupt president for the mainstream media to take cognizance of the popular sentiment and broadcast the resultant impeachment of the said president.
Emphasizing on the opportunities of the subaltern to express and organize themselves, Guha speaks of the “tremendously impactful” works of literature available within the country that would create a brilliant effect if they could reach outside their spatial territories.
Responding to a question on how multiple “revolutions” have risen and died away equally fast, Guha explains that movements are material constructions against momentary discontentment, and the needs and of the day determine such occurrences. She talks about how the right to land in India is now being replaced by right to compensation to suit current needs.
When asked by a student how different she thinks the freedom movement would be if Gandhi and Nehru had Facebook and Twitter at their disposal, she says, “even without Facebook, they could partition the country. If they did (have the technology), I shudder to think about it.”
Researchers At Work Conference (RAW-CON) drew to a close today with this stimulating talk and the launch of three books: Letters to Him by Gargi Saha, The Flea Market and Other Plays by R. P. Singh and Translation of Jala-Tu-Jalal by Prabodh Kumar Govil.
-Harika Vankadara, MA-Communication