Archive for the ‘dastkar andhra conversations/monologues’ Category
I realize now that the question “has the internet empowered the subaltern woman” is not the question to ask – in one sentence – the answer could be “yes” – in another reply the answer could be “no” – but…. it tells us nothing about what I set out to investigate in the past 18 or so years…
the point is that the “internet” is part of a logics that are even in place in processes offline – and from before the “internet” came along to “empower” the subaltern (at the risk of sounding repetitive and restating what many others have stated).
the issue then is why is the “internet” considered an outsider and who does the “west” vs “rest” binary serve.
My articles from Development in practice and Gender and Development – from 1999 – both fail to extricate themselves from this binary… because they start with the question and assumption of empowerment through the internet – which is a question imposed from a logic that such research is forced into – and therefore is a logic even non-profits and ngos are complicit in.
more on this in the book – perhaps.
[for citation details - email me]
Changes, Transitions, Upgrading, Rewriting… what stayed constant if anything?
I started work on this book during a post dot.com socio-economic era soon after I had completed my last book. The last book (Gajjala, 2004) to be based fully on my own research endeavours and collaborations drew on the work I’d done both for my dissertation and towards tenure, during the mid to late 90s. In the midst of that book project and this current one (and I anticipate the same for the next one I am embarking on as I shut the covers on this one) – shifts have occurred. These shifts have reaffirmed for me that what I was observing at these cross-sections are indeed impacting our presents and futures in ways that compel us to re-seat ourselves from disciplinary comfort zones. What is discussed in this book that you are reading the “conclusion” of, for instance, does not just impact our social and cultural lives as if those were separate from political and the economic. These online/offline intersections are changing the way we need to respond to situations around us – whether in our domestic everyday or in the world-wide political milieu. What is most compelling is not that there are shifts or there is change – these are givens in any era. Our urgent attention and reflexive engagement is needed to observe carefully how this so-called speed of change allows a loss of memory that permits status quo hierarchies to be unchanged generation after generation. While bodies and cultural objects are coded as interchangeable and made visible as agents of difference, democracy and multiculturalism – code is standardized and these individual agents of so-called change are placed on naturalized technical platforms. Code is made invisible. Does this mean that the cod-ers – the labor that codes – have the power? Does this mean that the complex literacies involved in producing the platforms and networks are created by the labor-force that codes them? What configurations of practices, literacies and assumptions underpin how this labor force is trained and simultaneously rendered powerless while they labor to produce “us” in the interface?
Should the Humanities and Social Sciences be left out of these kinds of inter-disciplinary practices of standardizing socio-cultural financial code named as “technical” and “Technology,” as we continue incestuously “blind” peer-reviewing each other’s work, gatekeeping to ensure there is not more than a bit of fashionable dissonance and multiplicity in voicing – as we maintain outdated hierarchies of knowledge-production?
In continuing work my call to fellow researchers is to scrutinize closely every practice, every code, every interface, woven designs, crochet patterns, spoken word – for what seams seamless. We have been looking at and reveling in the discovery of “ruptures” and celebrating them or pointing to them as evidence of hopeful change. But we are missing what hides in the background of the ruptures we see “popping up.” What are the non-changing factors that are hidden by the fast appearing manner in which the “newness” of the place/space/time/body intersections seem to have the potential for reproducing “old” oppressive regimes in brand new bytes great speed and less time for reflection and contemplation.
How do we “upgrade” the lens that sees – what do we look for and why. How is an “unscripted entry” (here I refer to a recent podcast interview of Larry Gross where he talks about the unscripted entry of Justin Beiber and the likes into the mainstream) into the mainstream actually a product of status quo production mechanisms that have shifted and been hidden through the continual and simultaneous upgrading and standardization of layers of access and literacy. What do we write and publish for and why – if we reproduce consistencies in the name of discovery of newness?
just so I can get the “correct” aesthetic…
She passed away last night.
Day two (started this nearly a month ago – but this is day two of when I’ve been able to put any work into it).
S writes – “Master weavers did pick up this technology…true, it was more for furnishing products, especially when markets opened out….but I again come back to narayanpet, where master weavers have framelooms, and are making sareees on it. It does have a clear product identity (unlike a more universal fursnishing fabric), but I think what matters is the existence of a market niche or demand which drives entrepreneurs to exploit the potential (of higher productivity) in frameloom technology. But if we go back in time to consider its introduction, then it was definitely an agenda of modernization and not market demand.”
Okay – so here I am a (not seasoned and quite ruptured and awkward) consumer of saris.. a consumer of fabric…
asking if the apparel shapes me or I shape the apparel?
if I wear a sari – where must I loose weight? if I wear jeans where must I loose weight?
Did the loom make the sari or the sari make the loom?
what kinds of looms allowed what kinds of saris (we know that as they exist looms are structured around the sari concept so it is difficult to adjust them to work with fabric for other garments etc)
how did the loom shape fashion and convention
and how does our distance from the loom in the market “freeze” notions of sari as tradition – even while it is a living shifting fashion/style practice in everyday life -
as also does bollywood and tollywood (and the fashion industry internal to India) shape the notion of the correct or chic way to wear a sari …
What I write below may make absolutely no sense – but I have to insert this in the conversation – will elaborate later:
I am designing and producing saris on an online 3d social and technologically mediated environment (called secondlife) where people buy and sell clothes etc. – I have several stalls and shops and a studio there where I make these saris and sell. However different consumers respond differently to my way of designing saris (using handloom textures bought mostly from Dastkar Andhra). Some of them have museumized the notion of sari as traditional indian wear in a very particular way – and they have developed “traditions” of what it means to design and create a sari in secondlife – so they have begun to lay down the rules on what layers a sari must contain (and yet each of the sari sellers on secondlife makes them differently – some have bollywood style transparent flowy “fabric” others have pleats attached and so on) so when I adapt and shift the notion it is to experiment with how I can shift the fashion of sari wearing in that environment through providing a slightly different product – but also because of how I use the technologies that help produce these “saris” – such as digital imaging software, digital cameras and the actual building in secondlife after the raw “fabric” has been created offline and imported in….
of course there is the whole other aspect of the sari consumer on secondlife who is part of the Gor…and I dont what practices of sari designing that privileges…
Depending on who the consumer is and their prior experience with saris on secondlife I get different kinds of responses about how a “real” sari should be designed on secondlife and what sorts of practices secondlifers are used to and have come to expect in a sari.
Thus my virtual “loom” (a combination of a situated social panopticon and the digital technologies used to construct the product) shapes my particular style of sari (shall we call it “rad Zabibha pEta cheera”?;-)) – and also my offline practice and experience with sari wearing shapes the way I visualize saris – but some of the people setting the precedent for the “Tradition” of sari making may have actually never worn a sari in their life…
which version of sari is tradition and which authentic – and why
so to get back to the master weavers and niche markets – markets are formed in interaction with what the weaver can produce – that was when loom was the only technology that produced the cloth for the sari….
producer and consumer
who’s producing who (what?)
who’s consuming who (what?)
which object stares back?
to find out more about what it means to “quilt conceptually” according to rad Zabibha (born in 2006) and Cyb Tabla (born in 2004)
work in-progress – always
considering also linking to Diva’s earlier moo projects – at least those that are still accessible