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Globalization and Divergence: Dynamics of Dissensus in Non-Dominant Cinema Cultures of South India

  • Based on her field studies between 1999 and 2003 in the South Indian State Kerala, the author critically reflects about Habermas's concept of the (bourgeois) public sphere, and also about later critiques of Habermas (eg. Eley). Schulze adds the new dimensions of human emotionality and humane ethics to the discussion of today's public (spheres) and civil societies which are part of globalising modernisations. It is poor and marginalized women's strongly felt compassion and love practised in their daily lives, which Schulze focusses on: these Marginalized ethics of the 'Good life' do sharply contrast the dominant societies' value systems; these latters consequently don't provide to the Marginaliezed a 'model'. However, Kerala, which is widely refered to as a development model - particularly with respect to the situation/ education of its women - is thus analysed by the author as a historically and culturally specific kind of 'modernity', which follows are rather violent and aggressive path of development in consonance with the general ruling anti-human/ nature philosophy of 'globalization'. Schulze's tool in her field work is 'participatory action research' and also her 'empathic camera' (camcoder). She mixed with local women who had organized themselves in women's groups with the urge to truly represent themSelves and their own ethics and goals in life - without the usual intervention of men/ of nationalist politics ruling Kerala's public sphere(s). In the course of Schulze and the local women groups becoming acquainted with each other, the scholar and the Marginalized felt the desire to support each other in their respective struggles for empowerment and for being respected as a human being. The author finally understood the fallacy and cynicism which lies in applying as a scholar the term 'women in Kerala' as if there wasn't the day to day particular violence which women of dalit ('untouchable'), or of adivasi (indigenous) background experience. Women's lives are moulded by networks of violence which are inherent to Kerala's castes, classes, and ethnicities, parallel to the basic oppression which women face because they are women. A group of dalit women in Kerala became particularly close companions in Schulze's quest for unravelling seemingly contradictory facts: Kerala's official claim to provide to women and other persons who were generally discriminated against in the larger Indian context, a supportive social and educational environment, on the one hand, and on the other hand the comparatively high number of suicides among Keralite women (and men), and the absence of women in what appears as Kerala's public sphere and 'civil society'. In several analytical steps which always centre around the experiences and feelings of the many poor and marginalized women, their life-worlds, their daily life philosophies, their views, voices, their ethics, dreams, Schulze unfolds these Marginalized visions, and tries to interpret them on their own terms. In this manner not only the mainstream society's propaganda about the 'Kerala development model' is demystified, but also to the reader insights become possible into a totally different set of ethics held by these women. They transgress notions of competition, of the 'necessary' monetarisation of all spheres of human life and of nature, of caste, religious, or gender conflicts. By means of 13 small video films the women together with Schulze showed and reflected upon their philosophy of an empowered 'Good life'.

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Author:Brigitte Schulze
Document Type:Conference Proceedings
Date of completion:2005/01/25
Publishing institution:Universität Trier
Contributing corporation:Centre for Comparative Media Studies, MIT Cambridge/ Mass. (USA)
Release Date:2005/01/25
Tag:Alternativkino; Ethnosoziologie; Gegen-Globalisierung; indisches Kino; Öffentlichkeit
Counter-Globalization; Dalit; Keralite women; empowerment-in-cinema; public sphere
GND Keyword:Frauenbewegung; Frauenforschung; Kerala; Medien / Wandel; Schudra
Institutes:Fachbereich 2 / Medienwissenschaft
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 30 Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie / 300 Sozialwissenschaften

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