Censorship in South Asia

Censorship in South Asia

Cultural Regulation from Sedition to Seduction
Edited by Raminder Kaur and William Mazzarella
Distribution: World
Publication date: 6/5/2009
ISBN: 978-0-253-00395-9
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Censorship in South Asia offers an expansive and comparative exploration of cultural regulation in contemporary and colonial South Asia. These provocative essays by leading scholars broaden our understanding of what censorship might mean—beyond the simple restriction and silencing of public communication—by considering censorship's productive potential and its intimate relation to its apparent opposite, "publicity." The contributors investigate a wide range of public cultural phenomena, from the cinema to advertising, from street politics to political communication, and from the adjudication of blasphemy to the management of obscenity.

Author Bio

Raminder Kaur is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sussex. Her books include Performative Politics and the Cultures of Hinduism and Bollyworld: Indian Cinema through a Transnational Lens.

William Mazzarella is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago and author of
Shoveling Smoke: Advertising and Globalization in Contemporary India.


"This is an exciting and innovative volume that will become the standard reference in the field for some time to come." —Thomas Blom Hansen, author of The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India

"Censorship in South Asia traces the genealogy of censorship through time to reveal its ever-contested presence in Indian cinema and beyond." —Maria Khan, Feminist Review

"[T]his insightful volume on a neglected topic shows that means and modes of censorship have kept pace with the mediums of communication, on grounds not dissimilar to the justification offered during the Raj." —Contemporary South Asia

"The contributors to this volume investigate a wide range of cultural regulation, from cinema to painting, blasphemy to official secrecy and even advertising to nuclear culture. The essays enlighten readers and provide better understanding of the concept of censorship." —South Asia Research

"[The] compelling volume Censorship in South Asia steps away from the media spectacle and, with great insight and precision, places such contemporary cases of public agitation and regulation in their regional and historical context. To do so, the editors . . . expand the idea of censorship beyond juridical repression exercised in the quiet of the state's backrooms and instead place it within a larger domain of ‘cultural regulation’." —South Asia

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Table of Contents


1. Between Sedition and Seduction: Thinking Censorship in South Asia
William Mazzarella and Raminder Kaur
2. Iatrogenic Religion and Politics
Christopher Pinney
3. Making Sense of the Cinema in Late Colonial India
William Mazzarella
4. The Limits of Decency and the Decency of Limits: Censorship and the Bombay Film Industry
Tejaswini Ganti
5. Anxiety, Failure, and Censorship in Indian Advertising
Angad Chowdhry
6. Nuclear Revelations
Raminder Kaur
7. Specters of Macaulay: Blasphemy, the Indian Penal Code, and Pakistan's Postcolonial Predicament
Asad Ali Ahmed
8. After the Massacre: Secrecy, Disbelief, and the Public Sphere in Nepal
Genevieve Lakier

List of Contributors