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Critical Theory to Cultural Studies

Critical Theory to Cultural Studies

- Prof Ira Bhaskar and Prof Ranjani Mazumdar

This course will focus on the theoretical interventions made to understand the cultural phenomena of industrial and post-industrial societies. Technological developments of electricity, printing, photography, film and television profoundly changed the terrain of cultural production. Duplication and multiplication brought with it the sudden power of what many have termed “mass culture”. Frankfurt School theorists like Adorno and Horkiemer saw mass culture as a threat to the integrity and autonomy of art. Others like Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer viewed mass culture as a space that also contained the possibility of a redemptive and democratic practice. More recently, the field of Cultural Studies (The Birmingham School) has drawn our attention to the relationship between popular culture and everyday life. Cultural Studies theorists like Stuart Hall, Raymond Williams and Lawrence Grossberg among others have challenged the mass culture/ art divide in favour of an active engagement with popular culture as a performative site where issues of power, ideology, and identity are constantly invented and reinvented. Through an engagement with these debates the course will introduce students to the complex relationship between modernity and culture as it evolved through the historical landscape of the 20th century. The effort here is to widen the debate by bringing in voices from Asia, Africa and Latin America.


Key Readings:

• Adorno, Theodore. The Culture Industry. London and New York: Routledge, 1991.

• Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large: The Cultural Dimension of Globalization. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

• Canclini, Nestor Garcia. Consumers: Globalization & Multicultural Conflict. Minneapolis & London: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.

• Chatterji, Partha. The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Post Colonial Histories. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.

• Foster, Hal. Ed. The Anti-Aesthetic. Seattle, Washington: Bay Press, 1983.

• Foucault, Michel. The Foucault Reader, ed. P Rabinow. Harmondsworth: 1984.

• Hebdige, Dick. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London and New York: Methuen, 1979.

• Horkheimer, Max and Theodor W. Adorno. Dialectic of Enlightenment: Cultural Memory in the Present.. New York: Continuum, 1988.

• Huyssen, Andreas. After the Great Divide. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.

• Jameson, Fredric. The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern. 1983-1998. London & New York: Verso, 1998.

• Morley, David and Kuan-Hsing Chen. Eds. Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies. London & New York : Routledge, 1996.

• Nandy, Ashis. The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism. Bombay, Calcutta, Madras: Oxford University Press,1983.

• Storey, John. Ed. What is Cultural Studies? A Reader. London, New York: Arnold, 1996.



A warm welcome to the modified and updated website of the Centre for East Asian Studies. The East Asian region has been at the forefront of several path-breaking changes since 1970s beginning with the redefining the development architecture with its State-led development model besides emerging as a major region in the global politics and a key hub of the sophisticated technologies. The Centre is one of the thirteen Centres of the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi that provides a holistic understanding of the region.

Initially, established as a Centre for Chinese and Japanese Studies, it subsequently grew to include Korean Studies as well. At present there are eight faculty members in the Centre. Several distinguished faculty who have now retired include the late Prof. Gargi Dutt, Prof. P.A.N. Murthy, Prof. G.P. Deshpande, Dr. Nranarayan Das, Prof. R.R. Krishnan and Prof. K.V. Kesavan. Besides, Dr. Madhu Bhalla served at the Centre in Chinese Studies Programme during 1994-2006. In addition, Ms. Kamlesh Jain and Dr. M. M. Kunju served the Centre as the Documentation Officers in Chinese and Japanese Studies respectively.

The academic curriculum covers both modern and contemporary facets of East Asia as each scholar specializes in an area of his/her interest in the region. The integrated course involves two semesters of classes at the M. Phil programme and a dissertation for the M. Phil and a thesis for Ph. D programme respectively. The central objective is to impart an interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of history, foreign policy, government and politics, society and culture and political economy of the respective areas. Students can explore new and emerging themes such as East Asian regionalism, the evolving East Asian Community, the rise of China, resurgence of Japan and the prospects for reunification of the Korean peninsula. Additionally, the Centre lays great emphasis on the building of language skills. The background of scholars includes mostly from the social science disciplines; History, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, International Relations and language.

Several students of the centre have been recipients of prestigious research fellowships awarded by Japan Foundation, Mombusho (Ministry of Education, Government of Japan), Saburo Okita Memorial Fellowship, Nippon Foundation, Korea Foundation, Nehru Memorial Fellowship, and Fellowship from the Chinese and Taiwanese Governments. Besides, students from Japan receive fellowship from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.