"Digital Politics in Millennial India", hosted together by the IIIT Delhi and LMU Germany, invites scholars and digital media activists in India and researchers studying the Indian diaspora for an international symposium in Delhi to explore themes surrounding the topic of the conference. Together, we aim to unpack the Internet media as information sources, rumor machines, affective affinity spaces, vehicles of propaganda, and objects of state policy as they increasingly shape the political present. The unique focus on local and regional digital political cultures makes this a one-of-its kind even anywhere in India.
A former political journalist in Washington, DC, Dr. Mark Allen Peterson is Professor of Anthropology and Professor of International Studies. He has conducted fieldwork in Egypt, India and the U.S. He is the author of the books Anthropology and Mass Communication: Myth and Media in the New Millennium (Berghahn 2003) and Connected in Cairo: Growing Up Cosmopolitan in the Modern Middle East(Indiana University Press 2011) and co-author of International Studies: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Global Issues (Westview 2014). Dr. Peterson specializes in global flows of culture, including news and entertainment media, marketing and consumption. He received his Ph.D. from Brown University in 1996.
Sofia Ashraf began rapping at the age of 18 at Justice Rocks – a copy-left initiative by Vettiver Collective that invites youngsters to express themselves on issues that matter and uses the medium of performing arts and music to challenge corporate globalisation, discrimination and hate politics. In 2015, they produced “Kodaikanal Won’t” – a video addressing the mercury poisoning caused by a thermometer factory owned by Unilever. The video garnered over 4 million views and resulted in the multi-national company compensating 591 ex-employees. She currently uses music and comedy to create content on social issues ranging from gender, moral policing, environmental disasters and political injustice.
India’s 350 million Internet users constitute the world’s second largest online user base, next only to China. Digital media cultures in India have grown significantly through WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and a variety of new media platforms. The phenomenal expansion of Internet media in India in the last two decades has enabled new forms of political participation in the public domain, particularly amongst the digitally savvy youth born around the new millennium. In spite of the limited access and wide social inequities in terms of access and use, young Indians engaged across a range of social and political movements have used online media as a mobilizing tool. As digital natives, many from India’s millennial generation are increasingly drawn into online media to mobilize, satirize, and express their interest in political matters.