Walking against the wind: Negotiating television and modernity in rural Rajasthan

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




India, Gender, Globalization, Mass media, Modernity, Television

Subject Categories

Anthropology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology


This dissertation examines how men and women in the village of Kothariya, Rajasthan in India, critique and create meaning from the competing strands of modernity that intersect in the village through television. These modern strands include global-level ideologies of development, Westernization and capitalism, state-level ideologies of the nation, and local level narratives of respect, modesty, family and health that also include critiques of modernity. This particular constellation of modern ideologies is also refracted through age, class, caste, and gender by individuals in Kothariya; thus modernity in Kothariya is best conceived of in the plural.

At the same time as villagers are negotiating these various strands of modernity, interviews with television directors and producers reveal that they imagine their programming will help villagers become modern, though how they conceptualize "modern" varies with each individual. Those producing programming for private channels tend to connect modernity to the desire for and consumption of particular commodities, while those working for Doordarshan relate becoming modern to a change in personhood which requires villagers to give up particular "backward" traditions and behaviors. Ultimately, I argue that the subject position individual villagers take in relation to modernity is a reflection of the power and hopes for social mobility thought to be inherent in each particular strand, though some villagers also reject aspects of modernity in an effort to reproduce their locality.


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