IIAS Lunch Lecture

Dubai Vernaculars: Aesthetics, Politics and Technology of Migrant media in Dubai

A lecture by Bindu Menon, IIAS fellow from the University of Delhi, India. 
Lunch is provided. Registration is required.

A high modernist urban imaginary of post 1950s petro dollar economy in the Gulf region,  contemporary emirates city of  Dubai is inseparable from its information superhighways, display boards, art exhibitions, huge installations in Public spaces, spectacles of city tours, architectural wonders of Burj Khaleefa, Opera and jazz clubs, Bollywood Tours and Filipino concerts. Dubai is a spectacular “media city” with its incorporation of media technologies of everyday life and embedded media practices in the city’s infrastructure The Petro modernist city is also a major transregional city of migration.

The multilingual migrant communities comprised of various nationalities of Asia, Africa and the Middle Eastern countries have taken themselves to the digital media to tell stories of migrant life as not just dominated by the paradigm of utilitarian economism and rational choice but as complex social beings and inhabitants of an emotional landscape of migration. As transnational productions they employ a media translinguality that disrupts dominant visual systems. Relinquishing the focus on mainstream film and television production the lecture will focus on the ancillary migrant production that are linguistically diverse, formally heterogeneous and encompasses a wide range of genres.

This lecture attempts to look closely at themes like work, alienating conditions of labor under the Kafala system, belongingness, citizenship, familial relations, sexuality and emotional politics as they get addressed through temporal and spatial explorations of the medium. I will attempt to do so by moving between specificities of the local and deep histories of migration, its interdisciplinary trajectories and media anthropology and retaining the possibility that some of these expressions could be recoveries of long standing Asian maritime trade networks.

Bindu Menon is currently a Fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden Netherlands. She is an Assistant Professor at Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi where she teaches Mass Communication and Journalism. She has authored essays on early film history, media studies, and music cultures in peer-reviewed journals in English and in her native language of Malayalam. She holds a PhD in Cinema and Cultural Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She is currently at work on her book on the history of early twentieth-century cinema publics and media archaeology in South India and a coauthored monograph on the Islamic Home Film Movement in Kerala and the Gulf Region. Her recent Publications include “Affective Returns: Biopics as Life Narratives” in the journal Biography  and One More Dirham”: Migration, Emotional Politics and Religion in the Home Films of Kerala” in Migration, Mobility, & Displacement. She was formerly a Fellow at the University of Victoria, Canada and the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla. Her research interests include Film History, Media and Mobility, Religion and Media.


Registration (required)

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About IIAS Lunch Lectures

Every month, one of the IIAS affiliated fellows will give an informal presentation about his/her work-in-progress for colleagues and others interested. IIAS organises these lunch lectures to give the research community an opportunity to freely discuss ongoing research and exchange thoughts and ideas. Lunch lectures are sometimes also organised for visiting scholars.