Amanda Weidman- Media in South India

Weidman, A. (2010). Sound and the City: Mimicry and Media in South India. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 20: 294–313.

295- Claims to the transparency, neutrality, or immediacy of a medium are always related to particular groups’ desire for or consolidation of power, often through the production of stereotypes about other groups…The frequent plays on linguistic difference and misunderstanding in these recorded vikatams reflect the centrality of language to notions of ethnic and racial identity, as well as cultural and class distinction.

Technological media play an active role in shaping which voices are heard and how. Continuing the process of objectification, recordings intro- duce the possibility of both repeatability and intimacy, a dwelling on the sounds and qualities of the voices through repeated listening in the context of one’s own home.

309- although the gramophone in India was on its surface divorced from politics in the direct sense, it nevertheless served the sociopolitical project of furthering class distinctions, particularly through distinctions in spoken language. Throughout this article, I have been concerned with what Brian Larkin describes as the “double function” of technology: not only its technical function and but its “ideological mode of address,” through which it recruits people as specific sorts of subjects (2008:43). The gramophone’s technical function of reproducing sound was paired in this case with the social function of hailing listeners as middle class subjects. Central to the development of the ideological mode of address that Larkin discusses are media ideologies, ideas about how particular media work and what they are good for. The definition of the gramophone as an entertainment medium determined how the voices reproduced by it would be heard: as nonstandard and non-middle class.


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