Nishant Shah

by Nishant Shah last modified Feb 05, 2010 11:15 AM
This section contains the different essays which have been published over a period of five years, ranging from questions of Internet pornography, digital subjectivities, cyber communities, techno-social conditions, Internet technology and legality, urban restructuration and IT, globalisation, gender and digital forms like blogging, digital video, social networking systems and MMORPGs.

Subject To Technology

This paper is an attempt to examine the production of illegalities with reference to cyberspace, to make a symptomatic reading of new conditions within which citizenships are enacted, in the specific context of contemporary India. Looking at one incident each, of cyber-pornography and cyber-terrorism, the paper sets out to look at the State’s imagination of the digital domain, the positing of the ‘good’ cyber citizen, and the production of new relationships between the state and the subject. This essay explores the ambiguities, the dilemmas and the questions that arise when Citizens become Subjects, not only to the State but also to the technologies of the State. The paper first appeared in the Inter Asia Cultural Studies Journal.

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Material Cyborgs; Asserted Boundaries

The essay was published in the European Journal of English Studies in a special issue on Multimedia Narratives. Emerging as an epistemological category with the rise of the Information and Communication Technologies, the cyborg leads to a complex set of negotiations about the production of a cyborg identity. This paper looks at the cyborg as a translator, to see the new mechanics of translation that come into play as the cyborg straddles multiple systems of making meaning and producing itself. Analysing the new social networking systems that have emerged in the last few years, the paper posits the cyborg as not only an author of translated texts but also as produced in the processes of translation. Focusing on one particular instance of the production of a cyborg identity, exploring the various players involved in the process of cyborgification and the material consequences of imagining the cyborg, the paper seeks to analyse the new incomprehensibility or illegalities that the cyborg, in its role as a translator, gets produced within.

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The Curious Incident of the People at the Mall

The first flash mob in India, in 2003, though short-lived and quickly declared illegal, brought to fore the idea that technology is constructing new sites of defining public participation and citizenship rights, forcing the State to recognise them as political collectives. As India emerges as an ICT enabled emerging economy, new questions of citizenship, participatory politics, social networking, citizenship, and governance are being posed. In the telling of the story of the flash-mob, doing a historical review of technology and access, and doing a symptomatic reading of the subsequent events that followed the ban, this paper evaluates the different ways in which the techno-narratives of an ‘India Shining’ campaign of prosperity and economic growth, are accompanied by various spaces of political contestation, mobilisation and engagement that determine the new public spheres of exclusion, marked by the aesthetics of cyberspatial matrices and technology enabled conditions of governance.

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Once Upon a Flash

The essay was published as a part of Sarai Annual Reader titled 'Turbulence' and explores the aesthetics, politics and form of the flashmobs and their manifestation in India. It looks at the potentials of the flashmob to produce turbulent physical spaces and identities and their encounter with legalities. The essay is also available at

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Network as a Unit of CMC

The paper was presented at the Inter Asia Cultural Studies Conference, on a panel on the Digital DNA. With digital globalization producing cities, spaces, and identities heavily mediated by digital technologies, the Database becomes the interface through which the state regulates and controls cities and bodies to produce new conditions of citizenship. The Network links these databases to produce spaces, cities, bodies, and nation states in new transnational orbits. The Archive serves as a way through which belonging to these spaces and subjectivities become possible. As the Database adopts fluid architecture, mixing different set of informational archives to produce new identities, the Network emerges as an infinite, interminable set of legitimised objects, identities and spaces in new politics of power and economy.

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(e)Governance by selection

The paper was presented at the Technology, Governance, Citizenship conference at the Indian Institute of Bangalore, and explores the processes of urban restructuration, positing of new digital citizenship, and the way in which technologised globalisation is implicated in the process. Looking at the instance of the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project in Ahmedabad - a part of the Mega City project in India, the paper looks at the tropes of desire, ambition and aspiration as ways by which people relate and belong to circuits of technology but are often made invisible in the popular rhetoric of e-governance policies in India.

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Digital Natives with a Cause? A Report

Youth are often seen as potential agents of change for reshaping their own societies. By 2010, the global youth population is expected reach almost 1.2 billion of which 85% reside in developing countries. Unleashing the potential of even a part of this group in developing countries promises a substantially impact on societies. Especially now when youths thriving on digital technologies flood universities, work forces, and governments and could facilitate radical restructuring of the world we live in. So, it’s time we start listening to them.

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