The essay analyzes a 2002 anti-Coca Cola struggle in Plachimada, a village in South India, that mushroomed into a coalition of demands on resource extraction, health, and regulated foreign investments by 2004. The primary focus is on the expressive play with symbols necessary for the very constitution of the popular. Daily rituals around the Coca Cola logo (placing empty plastic pots as mute witness to water scarcity) became critical to the formation of such a front against the corporate giant. I argue such performances are the norm these days in our highly media-saturated environments, motivating this inquiry into the potentialities of mass media—especially familiar icons that provide a ready palette of signifiers for improvisatory ensembles—in forging the popular.
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Bishnupriya Ghosh; Looking through Coca-Cola: Global Icons and the Popular. Public Culture 1 May 2010; 22 (2): 333–368. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-2009-031
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