The rhetoric of postcolonialism : Indian middle cinema and the middle class in the 1990s
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation is a rhetorical analysis of the ideological interventions of Indian Middle Cinema, in the lives of the 1990s postcolonial, middle class Indian. Marked by economic liberalization and satellite television, 1991 was a critical moment for India. Middle Cinema is a specific filmic formation which refers to serious, commercial films that capture the experiences of Indian society in transition and the attendant anguish of such change. The dissertation asks: what are the anxieties represented in these films? How do these films participate in public discourse on the issues they seek to represent? How do the films use language, symbols, and strategies to resonate with a middle class audience? Whose interests are articulated and preserved/challenged through these films? Through a rhetorical study of Middle Cinema, this dissertation sheds light on the experiences and anxieties of postcolonial, middle class Indians. The theoretical framework draws from ideological criticism of popular culture, postcolonial theory, and studies of Indian cinema. Middle class ambivalence about contemporary crises is articulated through narratives about women, youth, and the city. The films in chapter 4 recognize and legitimate female desire albeit within the parameters of conventional marriage. This can be a positive example for middle class women whose imaginations and freedoms can be severely curtailed by familial duty. Chapter 5 examines the hybrid Indian youth, within the current milieu of globalization and MTVization of Indian society. Confusion and disillusionment lead the youth to search for authenticity through marriage, careers, sexuality, and terrorism. Chapter 6 explores crime and communalism in Bombay in the wake of liberalization and Hindu nationalism. These films exhibit middle class ambivalence about the retreating role of the state in civic life. This research follows the call of, and contributes to, the growing body of critical communication theory that interrogates the marginalizing biases of mainstream theory. Postcolonial theory and criticism facilitate greater degrees of academic selfreflexivity, to understand how our academic practices reproduce neocolonial patterns of domination. This study is ideological from a theoretical and pedagogical perspective, in its attempts to situate postcolonial insight within the rhetorical canon.