ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

51- The Digital Turn in South Asian Television Studies

This panel takes up the impact of “the digital” on television cultures across South Asia. We explore media convergences between broadcast TV, social media, and digital TV spaces. Attention is drawn to the national, regional, linguistic and cultural norms and politics of this digital turn.


Elliot Montpellier - University of Pennsylvania, USA
Haripriya Narasimhan - Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, India
Smith Mehta - Center for Advanced Internet Studies, Germany

Long Abstract

What impact has the arrival of digital media had on South Asian media production and reception of fictional content, broadly construed? What tensions have emerged across these digital transformations in the region? From production practices to participatory fan cultures, digital techniques have reconfigured industry and viewing practices as well as the communicative modes between audiences and creators (Holt and Sanson 2014). Over the past two decades, digital shifts have impacted television culture globally (Lotz 2018). This panel turns to “the digital” to reposition television studies in South Asia’s dynamic media landscape and calls for specific attention to the digital turn and media convergences emerging from political, economic, cultural, and regional contingencies.
South Asian screen studies have been a vibrant space for theoretical and methodological contributions to the study of popular culture (Bioscope 2021). However, more attention has been given to film (Ganti 2012) while the few canonical South Asian television studies (Mankekar 1999, Rajagopal 2012) emerge from a largely pre-digital era. Recently, critical media industry scholars have focused on “how individuals, institutions, and industries produce and circulate cultural forms in historically and geographically contextualized ways” (Herbert, Lotz and Punathambekar 2020:11).
Building on these perspectives, this panel seeks submissions such as creator labour studies, audience studies–including diasporic viewership–and on the affordances of new media that focus on fictional content. We invite papers investigating related practices, patterns, and tensions across digital television cultures in the region.


Preserving Pious Personas: moral regulation in Pakistani TV dramas’ digital worlds
Montpellier Elliot - University of Pennsylvania, South Asia Studies, Philadelphia, United States
A different kind of TV: youth audience of foreign OTT fiction shows in India
Narasimhan Haripriya - Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, Department of Liberal Arts, Hyderabad, India
From Balaji Telefilms to ALTBalaji: The Role of Original Web Series in Pushing Broadcast Television’s Boundaries
Singh Mahima - Indian Institute of Technology Indore, Humanities and Social Sciences, Indore, India
Akshaya Kumar - Indian Institute of Technology Indore, Humanities and Social Sciences, Indore, India