Contexts and Conditions of Production: Considering Cultural Infrastructures

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreNA4

Semester and Year Offered: Winter

Course Coordinator and Team: Anita E. Cherian

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives/Description:

This course will consider the conditions of possibility that engender cultural production, specifically the production of literary and performative texts. Its primary concern is methodological; it works with a desire to consider ways of examining texts that do not immediately reference either the subject or figure of the author/ auteur/ performer, or, that of the work itself, performed or textual, but instead turns to the varied generative conditions that contribute to producing the work. If the course is interested in either the author figure or the text, it is interested in these entities as sites where complex (institutionally produced) tendencies of functions intersect. The course does not disavow the aesthetic, instead it seeks to expand critical vocabularies so that there is a self reflexive inclusion of the analytic methods of history, of institutionalization, of cultural policy, of a panoply of cultural infrastructures such as those of cultural labour, audiences and reception, circulation, circuits and distribution, are enabled. The course is concerned with the institutions and the cultural policies that frame and contextualize the production of cultural work.

The course strengthens the analytic and methodological orientations of both the Practice and Studies programmes offered at the SCCE. It will have particular relevance to students interested in examining the generative conditions of writing and performance.

The course will introduce students to analytic methodologies that engage with cultural policy, with institutions, and with questions of infrastructure; further it will engage in discussions and writing about how forms of historically informed thought might become integral to cultural analysis; and finally, it will attempt to dispel the fairly normative understanding that cultural production happens from spaces of inspiration and individual genius.

Course Outcomes: On completion of the course, it is expected that the student will have

Developed an informed understanding of the infrastructural conditions that serve as the conditions of possibility for the production of cultural work.

Developed her critical and analytic abilities.

Developed the ability to write up a self directed research project.

Developed multicultural competence.

Enhanced disciplinary and inter disciplinary knowledge and the ability to write in focused ways on ideas derived from the cours

Brief module based descriptions and readings:

The course is structured across five units and an introduction. Each of the units will look at readings that set up the contesting, often akin scenarios that engage the fields of literature and performance.

Introduction (weeks 1-2)

This module introduces the key concepts and methods that the course will examine. It will introduce students concepts such as archaeology, the politics of knowledge and disciplinarity, cultural studies, cultural policy studies, and infrastructure.

Foucault, Michel, The Archaeology of Knowledge, Routledge: London, 1989.

Hall, Stuart, ‘Cultural Studies and its Theoretical Legacies’, in Morley, David and Kuan-Hsing Chen ed. Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies, Routledge: London and New York, 1996, pp. 261-274.

Bennett, Tony, Outside Literature, Routledge: London & New York, 1990.

Larkin, Brian, ‘The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure’, The Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 42, 2013, pp. 327-43.

Institutions/ Patronage/ Production Contexts (weeks 3-5)

Following upon the introduction to the course, this module will look at the varied contexts within which literary texts and performative and visual materials are produced in the Indian context.

Erdman, Joan ed., Arts Patronage in India: Methods, Motives and Markets, South Asia Books 1992

Stark, Ulrike, An Empire of Books: The Naval Kishore Press and the Diffusion of the Printed Word in Colonial India, Permanent Black: New Delhi, 2009.

Guha Thakurtha, Tapati, Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in Colonial and Postcolonial India, Permanent Black: Delhi, 2004.

Cherian, Anita, ‘Institutional Maneuvers, Nationalizing Performance, Delineating Genre: Reading the Sangeet Natak Akademi Reports,’ Third Frame, vol. 2, no. 3, July 2009, pp. 32-60.

Cultural Labour (weeks 6-8)

This module is concerned with readings that study the formation of bodies who labour in the cultural sector.

Prakash, Brahma. ‘Performing Bidesiya in Bihar: Strategy for Survival, Strategies for Performance,’vol. 33, no. (Spring 2016), pp. 57-81.

Harney, Stefano & Moten, Fred, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study, Minor : New York, 2013.

Simone, Abdul Maliq, ‘People as Infrastructure: Intersecting Fragments in Johannesburg,' Public Culture, vol.16, no. 3 (2004), pp. 407-29.

Constituting the Object (weeks 9-10)

This module will deploy two representative essays to identify how literary and performative styles constitute their objects.

Awasthi, Suresh and Schechner, Richard, ‘Theatre of Roots: Encounter with Tradition,’ The Drama Review, vol. 33, no. 4 (Winter 1989), pp. 48-69.

Sangari, Kumkum, ‘The Politics of the Possible’, Cultural Critique, no. 7 (Autumn 1987), pp. 157-86.

Audiences/ Readers/ Participants (weeks 11-12)

The readings included in this module will examine approaches to the author, the reader, the participant and the collaborator.

Foucault, Michel, ‘What is an Author?,’ in Bouchard, Donald ed. -Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews by Michel Foucault, Cornell University Press: Ithaca, NY, 1980.

Bala, Sruti, The Gestures of Participatory Art, Manchester University Press: Manchester, 2018.

Bishop, Claire, Artificial Hells: Participatory Arts and the Politics of Spectatorship, Verso: London, 2012 (selections).

Circulation/ Distribution/ Circuits (weeks 13-14)

The reading selections in this module will look at how cultural products circulate and are distributed in the global economy.

Flew, Terry, The Creative Industries: Culture and Policy, Sage: London, 2012.

Brouillette, Sarah, Literature and the Creative Economy, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 2014. (selections).

Sadana, Rashmi, English Heart, Hindi Heartland: The Political Life of Literature in India, University of California Press: Berkeley, CA, 2012. (selections).


· Instructional design: Reading/Analysis/ Discussion

· Special needs (facilities, requirements in terms of software, studio, lab, clinic, library, classroom/others instructional space; any other – please specify): Projector/Sound facilities

· Expertise in AUD faculty or outside: the course might invite a visiting speaker if required.

· Linkages with external agencies (e.g., with field-based organizations, hospital; any others): N.A.

Assessment structure (modes and frequency of assessments):

Students are expected to participate fully in the activities of the classroom, which will include immersive reading, discussion, and engagement. Assessments will include components for presence and participation, a reading response, a seminar presentation, and a term paper. Students who are repeatedly absent will find themselves in difficulty both in terms of keeping up with the course content and their grade.

  • Presence and participation 20
  • Response paper 25
  • Seminar 25
  • Term paper 30

Readings: See above