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
Aspirational India: Impersonation, Mobility, and Emplacement
This chapter focuses on the instability catalyzed in neoliberal discourses of individual responsibility and entrepreneurship in the lives of call center agents in Gurgaon and in a popular Hindi film Bunty aur Babli. Pivoting around the trope of movement and mobility, these discourses are predicated on the intensification of the aspirations of lower-middle class youth and underscore how anticipation and hope intertwine with anxiety and uncertainty to produce a state of unsettlement—in Bunty aur Babil, and in the lives of many call center agents, moral imperatives prescribed by discourses of gender, sexuality, family, and nation hold in check and unsettle the neoliberal ethic of entrepreneurship as self-care. The aspirations of Bunty and Babli and call center agents may be allegorical of the complex ways in which multiple Indias are constituted as archives of affect and temporality in contexts shaped by transnational public cultures and neoliberalism.