Asha Achuthan initiates a historical research inquiry to understand the ways in which gendered bodies are shaped by the Internet imaginaries in contemporary India. Tracing the history from nationalist debates between Gandhi and Tagore to the neo-liberal perspective based knowledge produced by feminists like Martha Nussbaum; Asha’s research offers a unique entry point into cyberculture studies through a feminist epistemology of science and technology. The monograph establishes that there is a certain pre-history to the Internet that needs to be unpacked in order to understand the digital interventions on the body in a range of fields from social sciences theory to medical health practices to technology and science policy in the country.
The Cyborg - a cybernetique organism which is a combination of the biological and the technological – has been at the centre of discourse around digital technologies. Especially with wearable computing and ubiquitous access to the digital world, there has been an increased concern that very ways in which we understand questions of life, human body and the presence and role of technologies in our worlds, are changing. In just the last few years, we have seen extraordinary measures – the successful production of synthetic bacteria, artificial intelligence that can be programmed to simulate human conditions like empathy and temperament, and massive mobilisation of people around the world, to fight against the injustices and inequities of their immediate environments.
Namita Malhotra’s monograph on Pornography and Pleasure is possibly the first Indian reflection and review of its kind. It draws aside the purdah that pornography has become – the forbidden object as well as the thing that prevents you from looking at it – and fingers its constituent threads and textures. This monograph is not so much about a cultural product called porn as it is a meditation on visuality and seeing, the construction and experience of gazing, technology and bodies in the law, modern myths, the interactions between human and filmic bodies. And technology not necessarily as objects and devices that make pornography possible (but that too), but as history and evolution, process and method, and what this brings to understanding what pornography is.