"The making of indigeneity?"
"The making of indigeneity?" Santali popular video films and the mediation of culture beyond a region
Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) 2011 - 2014
Head of research: Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Kohl, research associate: Dr. Markus Schleiter
Popular Santali VCD-films target the "indigenous" population of rural areas of Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand in India, and do reach audiences at places far beyond, for example in Assam or Bangladesh. So far, an estimate of 120 popular video films and 350 video clip albums have been produced by newly emerging small-scale film and video production companies. The recent enfolding of this media circulation is connected to the formation of countless other VCD circulations of popular films in regional and "indigenous" languages during the past decade.
This research project investigates articulations of a belonging to the "indigenous" group of the Santal on the basis of Santali films, and inquires the position of everyday culture within these processes. The study includes a twenty month multi-sited field research in total together with film viewers, and also film producers, in several settings in Assam, Odisha, Kolkata and Bangladesh. It aims to identify and describe cultural practices as a part of identity building. Based on the method of "participant observation" the research further investigates production sites of music clips like studios and shooting locations in order to reveal socio-cultural impacts on media circulation in the afore mentioned areas - for example cultural negotiation patterns, but also professional and/or artistic self-identification claims.
Providing empirical data of various contexts as part of the media-based identity building of an "indigenous" group, the research will critically contribute to the recent debate on proclaiming "indigeneity" as an affirmative category in South Asia, and in this respect will develop a concept which recognizes distinctions and fragmentations within an "indigenous" community. Besides, it is aimed at providing empirical data focussing on cultural aspects of the formation of media infrastructures in South Asia.