Thursday, May 17, 2012

Abstract 2012 Jana Koshy

Jana Koshy, Department of Anthropology, Cologne University


Contesting Realities: “Urbanisation” and its Implications for the Construction of Social Realities

Beyond the Metropolis lies the landscape of towns, small cities and rural settings that create a vivid sphere of social interactions. These towns and small cities possess a medial quality, and thus can be read as landmarks, capable of illustrating the emergence of the growing and tightening dichotomies of Metropolitan and Rural realities. Therefore, they are positioned in a transitional space between the two poles of the Metropolis and the Rural.

Considering “Urbanisation” in this context, implies one major question: What effect do these concepts have on the creation of an agent’s social reality? Can urbanization be considered as a major tool in constructing a self located either in the Metropolis or in the Rural? And if so, what is the role of a transitional space like that constituted by Towns and Small cities in this? I assume that the effects of “Urbanisation” in this sense have merged in an interdependent, interactive and dynamic multi-layered space, itself being located in the “Metropolis/Rural”-continuum. Furthermore, I suggest this space to be conceptualized as a “discursive arena”, where interactions and processes of negotiation are constructed and put in dynamic relation. Being multidimensional in nature, these interactions and negotiations tend to be “readable” in several spheres of social reality. “Urbanisation“ is therefore to be defined as a means of creating different realities- realities, that locate themselves in a continuum between the Metropolis and the Rural. As a tool for creating realities it also serves as a notional factor in the shaping of agent’s identities in a visible way. This visibility comes to account while considering towns and small cities, because of their transitional disposition as being neither Metropolis nor Rural. The medium of this visibility can be found in the daily lives of the agents in these particular settings, namely in the Media, they consume.

My study will focus on the Region of Kerala as an illustration of this transitional space created by towns and small cities. The implications of urbanization in this particular region are multifocal and thus effect several spheres of social reality. A specific geographic setting that leads to a fluid merging of towns, small cities and rural areas induces a mixing of these spaces that exemplifies the transitional nature of the former. Being constructed as juxtapositions both –the Metropolis and the Rural- have nevertheless to be considered as fluid and intertwining spheres, which are bedded in a timeline of dynamic processes of negotiation of agents in a particular setting.

As a first glimpse on this vast topic, I would like to illustrate the construction of the diverging identities of the Metropolis and the Rural in another the “discursive arena” of keralese media and suggest that these are interdependent and interrelated to people’s reality as a central means of creating social reality and for being created by social reality.

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