Call for Papers: International Communication Association 2020 Digital South Asia Preconference: “Digital Cultures of South Asia: Inequalities, Infrastructures, Informatization”

International Communication Association 2020 Digital South Asia Preconference:
“Digital Cultures of South Asia: Inequalities, Infrastructures, Informatization”

Gold Coast, May 21, 2020

Date & Time: 9:00 am to 5.00 pm, Thursday, May 21, 2020

Location: Onsite, 2020 ICA Main Conference Venue, Gold Coast, Australia

Preconference organisers: Professors Radhika Parameswaran (Indiana University), Sangeet Kumar (Denison University), Kalyani Chadha (University of Maryland), Pradip Thomas (University of Queensland) and Adrian Athique (University of Queensland).

Link to online Call for PapersPreconference Digital South Asia

Conference coordinator: Roshni Susana Verghese, PhD,

Preconference description:

Characterised by a mobile phone led connectivity boom and the cheapest data prices in the world (McCarthy 2019), South Asia has emerged as a region with the greatest potential for the future growth of Internet users. Indeed, as such, the area is not only central to any attempts at imagining the future of digital media globally, but it also constitutes a fertile territorial and cultural space for scholarly inquiry into the various dimensions of expanding digital life in the region. Consequently, this preconference focuses on exploring digital developments and their political, economic, social and cultural implications in the context of postcolonial South Asia and its global diaspora. The preconference draws inspiration from scholars who have sought to dewesternise digital media studies through their granular and interdisciplinary accounts of varied aspects of digital life in non-western countries. It is also grounded in the notion that the historical, political and social specificities of postcolonial South Asia necessitate the production of knowledge on digital culture— both conceptual and empirical— that explores the heterogeneities and complexities of the diverse nations that constitute the region. We envisage this preconference to be a forum for illuminating the varied dialectical forces that are at play in South Asia in shaping digital culture in ways that are similar to but also quite different from other parts of the world.

In pursuit of these objectives, we invite submissions that cover a broad range of topics set in South Asia, including, but not limited to scholarly areas such as:

  • Issues of digital access, connectivity and inequality (social asymmetries of caste, gender, sexuality, religion, language, and class)
  • Online mobilization by activist communities to protest inequities and advocate for social change
  • Nature and implications for sovereignty of governance and infrastructure regimes emerging across the region, particularly as they relate to data collection and commodification, security and privacy
  • The political economy of digital media and the impact of digital technologies on the mainstream media landscape in entertainment and news media
  • Rise of new genres of informational and artistic representation— including parody, satire, and humor—in online spaces such as YouTube
  • Role of digital and social media in the transformation of contemporary politics, including campaigns and elections
  • Transformations in the business and content of journalism, the rise of fake news, misinformation as well as hate and extreme speech
  • Vernacular community formation in local, national and transnational/diasporic South Asian digital spaces
  • New transnational digital circuits of cultural production and consumption—fueled by affinities of caste, gender, class and sexuality—within and beyond South Asia

The preconference aims to bring together ICA participants as well as scholars from around the world who are interested in digital culture in the Global South, with a particular focus on South Asia. Presentations and conversations at the preconference will be geared to achieve the following broad goals: build theory sensitive to the nuances of the region, strengthen analytical frameworks.