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Pirate modernity and Baviskar - Globalization E2014
Transcript of Pirate modernity and Baviskar - Globalization E2014
Modernity: In postcolonial societies a large part of the Indian metropolis' population is marginalized by unequal power relations. This has been documented and theorized over by Baviskar, Chatterjee, Chakrabarty and many others.
Piracy: Sundaram sees media piracy as a way of life. On the one it undermines Western brand-based economy, on the other hand it is a logical consequence of it because many marginalized subjects in the postcolonial metropolis is in fact excluded from participating actively in this economy, though it still determines much of their lives.
Inequality and Spatial Division in Megacities of the Global South
Jugaad and piracy
Jhuggi (Jhopri): slum consisting of all kinds of found materials.
Sundaram: life in Delhi is structured according jugaad, understood broadly as 'the art of the possible'.
This applies to the marginalised population, who struggle to survive on a daily basis. But it also applies to the 'official' population, when a maid is told to hoard water in case of a water shortage and virtually every middle class family has a battery that sets in, in case of a power outage.
Pirate Modernity as piracy
The postcolonial metropolis has become a techonologised media city. Mass produced, mediated images and virtual presences through communication has become a defining factor in the metropolis.
Piracy is a practice that is often associated with illegal copying of digital media, but it goes further than that - both in relation to what is being copied, but also in terms of what this means for lives of the copying.
Piracy works through digital and mechanical reproduction, but becomes a life of its own. A media form, piracy also became a larger mode of replication for low-cost urban technological infrastructure. The world of piracy ranges from not just immaterial media goods of all kinds (software, movies, music, hardware) but also most mass-market commodities ranging from the counterfeit to the “unbranded”, the “graymarket” or the local commodity. (Sundaram 2010, 12)
The four categories he mentions here (counterfeit, ubranded, graymarket and the local commodity) are all part of the piracy industry to the extent that they all refuse to interact with a brand-driven economy where patents, trademarks and copyrights are maintained.
Piracy in history
Piracy is not new. It is not until the age of mechanical reproduction that anything can be reproduced without the copy in a very real sense being a new original. Think of a book which has to be hand-written in order to be copied during the Middle Ages. When a monk has been sitting for months – sometimes years – and copied a book by hand, is it then not also his creation?
Every new technology has brought both a legal and illegal market with it – from cassette tape to CD to DVD and finally the direct download. Furthermore, it has also led to new playback and distribution technologies.
Jugaad: to repair or fix something temporarily (2010, 2)
But Jugaad is also the widespread practice of repairing things. The Indian theorist Arjun Appadurai has written a very well-known essay called 'the social life of things' which is about how objects are commodified, purchased, used, and after a time thrown out, and thus stops being ‘goods’.
Maybe they even stop being 'things' and become part of a mass of waste. The idea is that commodities have a life-span as physical objects symbolically becomes transformed into goods and then 'dies' as in a life cycle.
The Indian Video CD player took an outset in a market, which on the one hand could not afford DVDs, but on the other mostly consumed music along with images played back on television – especially because pop hits in India in 90% of cases are a part of motion pictures.
Where the CD in the West was just meant as a way to improve sound quality, manufacturers in India used the medium to compress movies into lower quality, thus widening its applicability to Indian media habits.
Media products also change when they are copied. Just like Coca Cola changes its taste in different countries and McDonalds does not sell pork or beef India, likewise pirated and 'real' media products are also tailored to its audience.
Pirate Modernity and the subaltern
That piracy appeals to a Subaltern population who already finds itself on the fringes of society is explained by Sundaram in the following way:
Dramatically increased access to urban technological infrastructure, weaker bourgeois institutions and political mobilization by the poor provides a key context of pirate modernity. With its location in urban economic proliferation and media technologies of reproduction, piracy attracts subaltern populations, out of place in the contemporary city. Piracy's indifference to property laws produced a significant resource for subaltern populations unable to enter the legal world. (Sundaram 2010, 12)
This is inextricably linked with globalization. It is precisely because of the global distribution of media products and displacement of the production of goods to the formerly colonized part of the world (jeans sewn in Latin America and computer parts made in Taiwan) that it is possible for the subaltern to pirate multinationals goods or create their own versions. Sundaram therefore sees piracy as a side effect of globalization, which must always occur
Pirate modernity may be seen as globalization’s illicit and unacknowledged expression. In Globalization's official script in India, “the market” replaces the state in fulfilling the developmentalist dream (Das 2000). For radical anti-globalization activist it was the official script that mattered. For the managers of media industries and neoliberal civic campaigners it was usually pirate modernity, a form of refusing the law, not anti-globalization radicals, that posed a greater threat to the official mode of capitalism' (Sundaram 2010, 14)
Jugaad and 'the social life of things'
Sundaram's point in this context is that goods that are thrown out in India are often reused and thus becomes 'reincarnated'. They gain a new life as products. This is particularly true in the recycling industry.
Understood in an even broader sense one could also see Jugaad as a word for 'the informal' as such. There is thus a fluid transition between piracy, jugaad (art of the possible) and pure urge for survival.
In this way, the parts of the city normally referred to as 'slum' or 'jhuggi jhopris' are ‘technologised’ in a way that fits its needs, budget and legal status.
Timeline of Delhi's development
Delhi (Shanajahanabad, now called Old Delhi) is invaded by British forces who empties the city (killing a large number of civilians) and destroys the red fort.
The poor lower caste population, who in 1911 lives south of Old Delhi, is moved to the barren land west of the new city. This is a classic example of how city planning sometimes doesn’t rid the city of slums and illegal construction, but rather produces it.
A)The people who are displaced need to reside somewhere and will thus settle at the margins of the city in slums.
B) the city need workers to build the new city, though there is no place for them in the plan of the new city.
It is decided that Delhi is to be the capital of British India instead of Calcutta. Edwin Lutyens is hired to plan and build New Delhi to the south of Old Delhi. Its 'superhuman' architecture aims to get rid of the spatial confusion in Old Delhi, where residential, industrial and trade zones intermingle in a typical bazaar structure.
The partition of British India into India and Pakistan sends app. 450.000 Sikh and Hindu refugees from Punjab to Delhi, while large parts of the Muslim population flees to Pakistan.
This sudden influx of people leads to epidemics and sluggish infrastructure due to cramped living conditions and lack of water, electricity and transportation lines.
The Masterplan propounds many small, decentralized urban centers, with green spaces where residents can get what they need, without commuting from one part of town to another, thereby burdening roads and other transportation lines.
The goal of the Masterplan is to create modern city. Order must be ensured through the separation of activities into designated zones (residential, commercial and industrial) with lots of light, air and transparency in buildings made of steel, concrete and glass.
Sundarams: this institutes a form of 'urban apartheid' (Sundaram 2010, 55) where sections of people are moved to the outskirts of the city in specially created 'urban villages ' without being asked, because they are not urbane enough in their mode of living
The problem with this kind of planned city is that it is often perceived as claustrophobic because there is very little room for initiative, which lies outside the plan.
Delhi's master plan is developed with help from the U.S. and The Ford Foundation, which donates money to India as part of a general attempt by the U.S. to turn India away from the USSR.
The postcolonial state thus hangs on to the colonizer's style of governing. Only, the colonial idea of 'the native' is replaced with 'the rural'.
Chakrabarty in 'Provincializing Europe': the perception in Europe around 1900 is that the progress towards modernity is a train track, which every nation must follow, though Northern Europe is far ahead. The postcolonial state takes on this idea and sees the city as the forerunner of modernity, where rural practices must be eradicated so as not to contaminate the modern city with their pre-modernity.
Partha Chatterjee: These rural ‘others’ are still a ‘population’ rather than ‘citizens’, they still have to be governed by an elite, rather than govern themselves as the constitution would have it.
The state of emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi is being used to legitimize the violent clearing of illegally constructed buildings.
‘Bourgeois Environmentalism’ grows among Delhi's Middle and upper class in order to 'clean up' the city and thus create space for private cars, big industry, etc.
...bourgeois environmentalism has emerged as an organised force in Delhi, and upper-class concerns around aesthetics, leisure, safety, and health have come significantly to shape the disposition of urban spaces.
Delhi gets a 'Slow, Painful Makeover'. (Chaturvedi (Ed.) 2010, xvii). A ban on approx. 980,000 small factories makes an estimated 2 million people unemployed in the city, while the clearing of slums displaces 3 million people. Most often no compensation is given and no alternative is provided.
This bourgeois environmentalism converges with the disciplining zeal of the state and its interest in creating legible spaces and docile subjects (Scott 1998).
According to Alonso (1994: 382), ‘‘modern forms of state surveillance and control of populations as well as of capitalist organisation and work discipline have depended on the homogenising, rationalising and partitioning of space’’. Delhi’s special status and visibility as national capital has made state anxieties around the management of urban spaces all the more acute: Delhi matters because very important people live and visit there; its image reflects the image of the nation-state.
(Baviskar 2003, 90)
Commonwealth Games is held in Delhi and so further cleansing is initiated. Large slums are moved in favor of bypass roads and cows and cycle rickshaws are prohibited in certain zones. Later, rickshaws are allowed in some of these zones again, because they work well with the new metro, since the short distances from station to destination can be covered by them.
But it also applies to ‘copying’, ‘reinterpretation’, ‘rewriting’ and ‘sampling’. All these words describe a process where you use a part of something known in a new form, and this is what happens when products (and especially media products) are 'reincarnated' and and re-sold.
Semantic slippage in 'jhuggi-jhopri'
Semantic slippage in 'slum'
Vast movement of people
The virtual presence of people dispersed over large areas of the globe
Peggy Levitt and Nina Glick Schiller: From migrancy to transnationlism
As opposed to migrants in earlier eras, present day populations are able to return frequently to the places they were born or think of as ‘home’ and in the intervening time be present via ‘proximants’, mediated through electronic interfaces.
Previously the movement of...
post-colonial elites to former 'Mother Countries'
Rural-urban migration today
Partha Chatterjee and Dipesh Chakrabarty:
The founding texts of European modernity and humanism was somehow always written from the perspective of a white, male, affluent ‘human’, which lived in the colonising world.
Critique of European Modernity
John Locke’s two famous Treatises of Government (1689) formulated many of the ideas about ownership of private property that we have today.
It was also used to legitimise the expansion into America by settlers, as they by working the land owned it, as opposed to the native population who only traversed it.
John Stuart Mill’s 'On Liberty' (1859) famously advocated that India was not in a position to govern itself yet.
Liberal democracy supplanted old monarchies and gave voice and rights to ordinary people in the colonising world.
These rights were not extended to the colonies, until the colonising powers after the world wars were forced to do so.
They justified the long wait by referring to Mill's text