Over the last ten years, The Sarai programme at CSDS has arguably been South Asia’s most prominent and productive platform for research and reflection on the transformation of urban space and contemporary realities, especially with regard to the interface between cities, information, society, technology, and culture.
Sarai began work in 2000 on issues of media, urban life, and the public domain, at a time when such issues were hardly on the horizon in India. In addition, Sarai brought together academics and practitioners in a new dialogue and collaboration. Sarai was initiated by Ravi Vasudevan, Ravi Sundaram , both faculty at CSDS; and the Raqs Media Collective (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula & Shuddhabrata Sengupta). Sarai’s early research foci on urbanization, media life, and information are now part of any serious thinking about the contemporary. Since its inception, Sarai has initiated research projects on media urbanism, Cybermohalla, critiques of intellectual property, free software, art practice and the public realm, language and the city, and many others.
It has supported unique independent fellowship programmes, and held a host of events including conferences, workshops, and performances. Like all experimental research initiatives in India, Sarai has seen cycles of expansion and contraction, involving the dispersion of some nodes and the emergence of new sites and publics.
Sarai’s ongoing projects include:
- Information Infrastructures: Histories and Contemporary Practices
- Social Media: Contemporary Histories and Archaeologies
BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies
One of Sarai’s publication ventures is the academic journal BioScope. This is a blind peer-reviewed journal being published by Sage Publications biannually since January 2010. It is primarily centred in the areas of film and media studies, but also engages a wider orbit of image and sound practices.
The Sarai Reader
The Sarai Reader book series has been widely recognized as a site for critical and creative thinking. Previous Readers include:
> Sarai Reader 01: The Public Domain
> Sarai Reader 02: The Cities of Everyday Life
> Sarai Reader 03: Shaping Technologies
> Sarai Reader 04: Crisis/Media
> Sarai Reader 05: Bare Acts
> Sarai Reader 06: Turbulence
> Sarai Reader 07: Frontiers
> Sarai Reader 08: Fear
> Sarai Reader 09: Projections
A collection of stories, biographies, conversations, blog entries, and reflections about the city of Delhi. Published by Rajkamal Prakashan, 2007.
An extraordinary composite of writings on the city of Delhi, written over a period of two years by a group of 20 young people who live in different places in Delhi, and who have, over the last several years, sustained among themselves and with others around them, a relationship of writing and conversing about the city. Published by Penguin, 2010.