Purnima Mankekar is Professor in the Departments of Gender Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author of Screening Culture, Viewing Politics: An Ethnography of Television, Womanhood, and Nation in Postcolonial India and coeditor of Media, Erotics, and Transnational Asia, both also published by Duke University Press.
This chapter outlines the project of unsettling India through the lens of transnational public cultures. Theorizing the role of transnational public cultures in the contemporary moment, the chapter argues for moving away from substantialist assumptions about nationhood to conceptions of India as constituted through specific regimes of affect and temporality. Drawing on South Asian and Asian American scholarship, this chapter situates New Delhi and the San Francisco Bay Area as nodes in the transnational circulation of media, capital, commodities, and populations, and foregrounds the role of public cultures in forming modes of connectivity between these two different sites. Parsing out the relationship between affect, temporality, unsettlement, and culture/cultural change, the chapter ends by situating this ethnography’s deployment of the terms archive and mediation in dialogue with attempts to rethink the archive in critical and feminist scholarship.