Manisha Shelat

Digital Life on the Fringe: Media Cultures in Small Town and Rural India

This talk draws from focus group discussions and interviews with young people from rural and small town Gujarat, India. In the process I show how the location and dominant discourses intersect with digital technologies and reconfigure aspects of daily lives, such as study, leisure, and friendship for young people. I especially focus on three areas of negotiations around digital cultures for the young people: negotiations around play and work; power and control; and aspirations and structural/infrastructural limitations. My research shows that youth in small town and villages treat new media and technologies as one limited component of otherwise rich lives and social experiences. New media are at the periphery of their lives, as these youth have strong interpersonal connections that are rooted in geographic proximity and active school experiences. The talk also draws attention to the need of taking into account experiences from different socio-cultural, economic, and geopolitical locations globally and within countries in understanding the so called Net generation.

Manisha Pathak-Shelat has taught and worked as media consultant and researcher in the US, India, and Thailand. Currently she is completing her second doctorate at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has a Ph.D. in Education from the M.S. University of Baroda, India. Her research addresses youth media cultures, digital public sphere, global citizenship, media literacy, and gender. Her Awards and fellowships include Shastri Indo-Canadian Faculty Research Award, Salzburg Seminar Fellowship and the TATA Fellowship for Study of Contemporary India.