Sarai Reader

Sarai Reader 09: Projections


A projection always involves an incandescent transference, some crossing of a void or darkness to effect luminous landings on a distant surface. Without projections, we would have no cinemas, no city plans, no forecasts, no wagers, no fantasies. Projections convect questions, magnify dreams and illuminate desires. Sarai Reader 09: Projections translates this imperative to act as a transport of illumination to build an axis of central questions…

Sarai Reader 08: Fear


Modernity’s great promise – the freedom from fear, now lies in ruins. One can argue that this vision was always compromised – modernity (especially in the form that emerged in the West, under Capitalism) always hid its own fears, and hid from its own fears – the fear of epidemics, of urban panic, of the homeless multitude and of criminal activity. This led to a drive for transparency: for separating the civic from the criminal, the civilised and the barbaric peoples, the human from the non human, life from the machine. With the advent of the mass slaughters of the 20th century, where more died than ever in recorded human history, this promise lay shattered. Today, the drive for transparency has been rendered doubly difficult, with new mobile populations, new networks, new previously unimagined terrors. Sovereignty seems an antiquated slogan of the past, and in the wake of the financial shocks of 2008, there seems to be some substance in the contention that Western capitalism has entered a phase of possibly long term decline…

Sarai Reader 07: Frontiers


Frontiers considers limits, edges, borders and margins of all kinds as the sites for declarations, occasions for conversation, arguments, debates, recounting and reflection. Our book suggests that you consider the frontier as the skin of our time and our world, and we invite you to get under the skin of contemporary experience in order to generate a series of crucial (and frequently unsettling) narrative and analytical possibilities. For us, the frontier is a threshold waiting to be crossed, a space rife with the seductive aura of transgression…

Sarai Reader 06: Turbulence


If there were ever to be a ‘weather report’ for our times, an audit of the climate in which we have grown accustomed to live, it would use the word ‘turbulence’ often. We inhabit the vortex of storms, and smell sunshine. We are always prepared for rain. Our cities are sites of flood and fire. We live between tremors, power cuts and voltage surges. Agitations emerge and abate on our streets and on the airwaves, as if by accident. Books are burned, blogs are blocked, bourses dance mad tarantulas. We fly with seat belts fastened. Predictions are pronounced and dissembled in seconds. Bets are placed and lost, wagers made and found wanting. Insurance companies invoke acts of God. The more things change, the more they change…

Sarai Reader 05: Bare Acts


This year, the Reader looks at ‘Acts’ – at instruments of legislation, at things within and outside the law, and at ‘acts’ – as different ways of ‘doing’ things in society and culture. Several essays echo and complement themes that have emerged in earlier readers. Piracy, borders, surveillance, claims to authority and entitlement, the language of expertise, the legal regulation of sexual behaviour and trespasses of various kinds have featured prominently in previous Readers. This collection foregrounds these issues in a way we hope can make a series of coherent but autonomous and interrelated arguments…

Sarai Reader 04: Crisis/Media


The process of editing the Reader only confirmed what we felt that the workshop had already set in motion – an unruly but very necessary set of forays into the realm of ‘the unspeakable’. Our contributors were opening out new spaces for dialogue, not only by inaugurating discussion on things that had hitherto been left unsaid, but also in the way that different elements were speaking to each other. Our task was to enable this conversation to interrupt itself, to make all sorts of unruly connections, to foster linkages between disparate truths and conflicting claims to attention…

Sarai Reader 03: Shaping Technologies


Shaping Technologies brings together a host of original writing and images on these and other themes by a collection of writers, theorists, critics, photographers, philosophers, engineers, activists, artists, media practitioners and programmers from all over the world. It also excavates and connects little known histories with our present reality, finding, for instance, in Rabindranath Tagore’s account of being airborne in 1934, an oblique way of reflecting on the consequences of aerial bombardment, the dehumanising mindset that implodes when the pious do battle, and the prospects of a war that threatens to break over Iraq, even as this book goes to press…

Sarai Reader 02: The Cities of Everyday Life


This year’s Sarai Reader brings together a range of critical thinking on urban life and the contemporary, marked by spreading media cultures, new social conflict and globalisation. Scholars, media practitioners, critics and activists use a flow of images, memories and hidden realities to create a fascinating array of original interventions in thinking about cities today. In the context of India, where a large part of this reader has been edited, this is significant, given the frugality of writing on city life in this part of the world…

Sarai Reader 01: The Public Domain


The Sarai Reader (which is the first of what we hope will be more such collections) can be seen both as a navigation log of actual voyages and a map for possible journeys into a real and imagined territory that we have provisionally called the “Public Domain”. This republic without territory is a sovereign entity that comes into being whenever people gather and begin to communicate, using whatever means that they have at hand, beyond the range of the telescope of the merchant, and outside the viewing platform of the microscope of the censor…