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Talking Media: How to Speak to God(s) through Academic Podcasts

Date & Time:
16:30 - 18:00,
Wednesday 6 March, 2019


This talk explores the disruptive potentialities found at the intersections between podcasting as digital ethnography, the affective qualities of sound, and new formations in digital politics in India today. Since August 2017 I have run the podcast series ‘Online Gods – Digital Cultures in India and Beyond’ with Sahana Udupa, with whom this paper is co-authored. The broad aim of the series is to explore how the digital is changing the public sphere in India. Each episode, first we speak to a scholar about a key concept or idea they have worked with or on, and, secondly, to an ‘online god’, someone who is using new media in interesting or innovative ways in relation to politics, religion or national belonging.’

Focusing on the second ‘online god’ segment of the podcast, in this talk I will first explore: how podcasting further blurs the digital anthropologist’s already complicated field-home distinction; and whether the affordability of digital media production traps academics within the myth of online participation. Moving on from this, I will then examine: the sonic specificities of talking online; and how audio-performance affects the efficacy of an argument. Finally, I will ask: how new conditions of communication are changing the public sphere in India; and whether the active voluntary participation of previously marginalised groups leads to empowerment and democratisation. Can academic podcasts disrupt ‘traditional’ modes of academic knowledge production? Can sound disrupt increasingly dominant visual modes of communication? And can the featured ‘online gods’ disrupt established media’s discursive hegemonies?

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  • Name: Ian M. Cook
  • Affiliation: Central European University
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  • Bio: Ian M. Cook is a Research Fellow at Central European University. He is an anthropologist whose work spans urban studies, south Asian studies and sound studies. At CEU he is the he is the co-founder and manager of CEU’s podcast library; a research fellow at the Center for Media, Data and Society; and part of the core team within the Visual Studies Platform. Outside CEU he is the co-host of the media anthropology series Online Gods; hosts the South Asia Studies and Sound Studies podcast series within the New Books Network; and is Master of Podcasts at Allegra.