Histories of the Internet

by Nishant Shah last modified Mar 30, 2015 02:15 PM
For the first two years, the CIS-RAW Programme shall focus on producing diverse multidisciplinary histories of the internet in India.

Histories of internets in India

The CIS-RAW programme is designed around two-year thematics. Every two years, we shall, looking at our engagement and the questions that are emerging around us, come up with new themes that we would like to commission, enable and encourage research on.

The selection of the theme of the History of Internet and Society is a unanimous decision made by our researchers in-house, the members of the Society, distinguished fellows, supporters, and peers who all gathered for a launch workshop for the CIS. There is a severe dearth of material on the histories of Internet and Society in India and we find it necessary to contextualise and historicise the contemporary in order to fruitfully and critically engage with the questions and concerns we are committed to. In the first two years of its programme, the CIS-RAW hopes to come up with alternative histories of the Internet and Society, which chart a wide terrain of the field that we are engaging with and produce one of the first such resources for researchers working in this field.

Scope of the Theme:

We are looking at a wide range of accounts of the different forms, imaginations, materialities and interactions of the internets in India. As we excavate its three-decade growth in India, it becomes increasingly clear that there is no homogenised Internet that has evolved in the country; Instead, what we have is a technology, which, through its interactions and intersections with various objects, people, contexts and regulation, has emerged in many different ways. The theme of 'Histories of internets in India' hopes to address these pluralities of the internets and how they have been shaped in the unfolding of these technologies.

We have collaborated on the following histories with different researchers in India:

  1. Rewiring Bodies - Asha Achuthan, Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore.
  2. Archive and Access - Rochelle Pinto (Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore; Aparna Balachandran, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore; and Abhijit Bhattacharya, Centre for Sudies in Social Sciences, Calcutta.
  3. Porn: Law, Video & Technology - Namita Malhotra, Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore
  4. Transparency and Politics - Zainab Bawa, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society
  5. The Last Cultural Mile - Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore
  6. Using the Net for Social Change - Anja Kovacs, (Research) Fellow, Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore
  7. Queer Histories of the Internet - Nitya Vasudevan, Centre for Study of Culture and Society and Nithin Manayath, Mount Carmel College
  8. Internet, Society and Space in Indian Cities - Pratyush Shankar, Center for Environmental Planning and Technology University, Ahmedabad
  9. Gaming and Gold - Arun Menon, Centre for Internet & Society
Archive and Access
The monograph by Aparna Balachandran and Rochelle Pinto, is a material history of the Internet archives. It examines the role of the archivist and the changing relationship between the state and private archives for looking at the politics of subversion, preservation and value of archiving. By examining the Tamil Nadu and Goa state archives, along with the larger public and state archives in the country, the monograph looks at the materiality of archiving, the ambitions and aspirations of an archive, and why it is necessary to preserve archives, not as historical artefacts but as living interactive spaces of memory and remembrance. The findings have direct implications on various government and market impulses to digitise archives and show a clear link between opening up archives and other knowledge sources for breathing life into local and alternative histories.
Archives and Access
Sep 22, 2011 04:20 AM
Rewiring Bodies
Asha Achuthan initiates a historical research inquiry to understand the ways in which gendered bodies are shaped by the Internet imaginaries in contemporary India. Tracing the history from nationalist debates between Gandhi and Tagore to the neo-liberal perspective based knowledge produced by feminists like Martha Nussbaum; Asha’s research offers a unique entry point into cyberculture studies through a feminist epistemology of science and technology.

The monograph establishes that there is a certain pre-history to the Internet that needs to be unpacked in order to understand the digital interventions on the body in a range of fields from social sciences theory to medical health practices to technology and science policy in the country.


Click here to download the Monograph [PDF, 2647 KB]
Re:wiring Bodies: Call for Review
Dec 17, 2009 05:25 AM
Alternatives? From situated knowledges to standpoint epistemology
Jul 29, 2009 07:10 AM
Rewiring Bodies: Methodologies of Critique - Responses to technology in feminist and gender work in India
Jul 20, 2009 11:00 AM