Sub-themes for Frames of Reference 2009

8 12 2009


Much of the first decade of the twenty-first century has been spent coming to terms with the new global phenomenon of ‘terrorism’ and subsequently, the war against it. The facts of the matter aside, the images generated in the media and their percolation/proliferation down to the popular imagination is fraught with the politics of representation and necessitates critical interrogation. Most media narratives of terror attacks have created monsters of communities, obfuscating the finer nuances involved. However, some sensitive and committed journalism has also revealed media as a space for critical thinking and analysis. The role of the media in civil society is an important area of investigation and we wish to ponder over it from multiple perspectives.

North East

The problem with media representation of the North East is two-fold. Firstly, the singular most important impulse of popular media to reduce complexities to a bare minimum of de contextualized facts has impeded possibilities of representing dissent. The vocabulary for the movements for autonomy in the North East being greatly limited, the issue has been reduced to dichotomies of the state and those against it. Secondly, stories from the North East are also subjected to severe marginalization and thus, fail to register on the collective ‘national’ psyche. This seminar is an attempt to unravel the various layers involved in media narratives from the region and also to explore the socio-cultural and political ramifications of these narratives.


The events of the last few months have revealed an urgency with regards the ‘Naxalism menace’, the Prime Minister calling it the ‘greatest internal security threat to our country’ and the logistics of ‘Operation GreenHunt’ well under their way. Mainstream media has been involved in ‘exposing’ the trigger happy ways of the Maoists, often obscuring the socio-economic and political context to the demands of the tribals. The conception of the problem in the simplistic framework of a security issue overlooks the disastrous consequences of the development paradigm employed in the region, the atrocities committed by state backed militia on the tribals and consequently, the grounds for resistance. From the war ravaged zones of Chattisgarh to the battle grounds of Lalgarh, we wish to investigate the many complexities involved in the issue and its representation in the media in order to cultivate a more sensitive approach towards it.