Blog Post

Hello everyone!

Hello everyone!

Hello from Baldimore/Bawlmer :)

It's super exciting to be a HASTAC scholar for the 2014 academic year. I've been a member of the site for over a year but it feels nice to be officially recognized and included into the fold. I'm originally from Calcutta, India and my dissertation research focuses on my native country where I am looking at a particular social/protest movement that occurred in 2011 that for the first time heavily used social media and other internet technologies to inform and influence the message. The working title of my dissertation is "Multimedia discourses of a social movement: An exploratory case study of the Indian anti-corruption movement of 2011". I defended my dissertation proposal in the summer so I am officially a candidate. Yippeeee!

I was interested in the topic of the use of social media and social networking technology in social and protest movements since 2009 when there was an online campaign for the release of a highly respected physician in India, Dr. Binayak Sen, who had been held by the Indian government on archaic sedition charges. He was held primarily because of his work with indigenous populations who refused (and continue to refuse) to allow the government and corporate interests take over their land for setting up mining factories. World events of 2010-2011, I mean the Arab Spring, and before that the Iranian and the Moldovan elections, exponentially increased my reading list as everybody seemed to be researching and writing about "Facebook revolutions" and "Twitter protests" when the reality and the complete picture is much more complicated and nuanced than that. Social media cannot and have not caused protests, people have with the help of technology and my dissertation aims to find out how. 

Therefore, quoting from my dissertation proposal: The Hazare movement was able to use mass media and online social media to play a crucial role in helping social movement activists and organizers broadcast their movement’s appeals and needs.  This dissertation explores the ways in which this movement was able to accomplish the successful dissemination of the movement’s ideology and goals by examining the discourses surrounding it in the various media.  Specifically, I focus my examination on the discourses that occurred on Twitter, two pan-Indian English language newspapers and the testimonies of a few organizers of the movement. 

I have chosen to focus on India as it is the country I understand best having lived there for the first 25 years of my life. It is also a complex country in terms of access to technology, the socio-economic structure and the various other social and political differences. It is therefore a fascinating setting for the project!

I would love to hear from all of you about all the exciting stuff that y'all are doing. Look forward.

Finally, I have attached a Call for Papers for my program's (Language, Literacy and Culture PhD program) first ever graduate student conference. It's going to be held on April 12 next year at UMBC. I'm in the CfP review committee and would love to receive proposals from other HASTAC scholars. Please do not hesitate to write to me or to the conference organizers directly in case you have questions or clarifications.




I'm copying below the CfP. Can't see it with my blog post. 



“Rethinking Intellectual Activism”

The 1st Annual Language, Literacy and Culture (LLC) Graduate Student Conference

Saturday, April 12, 2014

University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

Deadline for Proposals: November 30, 2013

Chicana feminist writer Gloria Anzaldúa once said, “To be part of an alliance or coalition is to be active, activist. Why do we make alliances and participate in them? We are searching for powerful, meaning-making experiences. To make our lives relevant, to gain political knowledge, to give our lives as a sense of involvement, to respond to social oppression and its debilitating effects. Activists are engaged in a political quest. Activists are alienated from the dominant culture but instead of withdrawing we confront, challenge.” Where do scholars stand with regard to activism and transformative politics? Do they confront and challenge the dominant culture or serve to safeguard the status quo in the privileged comfort of the “ivory tower” of academia? Can we envision the university as a place of intellectual activism? Or should we reinvent the institution and scholars’ roles in it to make it a space of “political quest?”

We invite you to join us as we explore the potential meanings and practical implications of “intellectual activism,” which, as a political praxis of knowledge production, validation, and distribution, can take many different forms. By focusing on the notion of “intellectual activism,” the conference aims to open a critical discursive space to question and reimagine the role of the university in maintaining and/or disrupting the systems and operations of power within and through which the institution functions. In order to rethink the (actual and/or imagined) boundaries of the university and activism in a relational framework, the conference intends to bring together scholars, activists, and artists and let them engage in stimulating dialogues about the future of the university as a political place of knowledge production and social justice promotion.  

We look forward to a day of inspiring dialogues that engage graduate students from all social sciences and humanities inter/disciplines and activists working to bring social justice on various political fronts. We encourage proposals that investigate “intellectual activism” from political, historical, sociological, philosophical, pedagogical, economic, feminist, postcolonial, literary, queer, etc. perspectives. Potential themes may include but are not limited to:

  • Historical or theoretical analyses of activist movements and strategies both within and outside the institutionalized context of the university

  • Coalition building between scholars and activists

  • An examination of what is or should be the relationship between the community and the university

  • Theorizing and practicing action-research methodologies

  • Policing of radical ideologies in institutionalized educational settings

  • Critical pedagogies and their discontents

  • Institutionalization of feminist politics in the university

  • Queer theory as intellectual activism

  • Academic publications as oppositional discursive spaces

  • Conservative policies/activisms and the academy

  • The relationship between social media and social justice

  • Prison-Industrial Complex and/or criminal justice

  • Building and preserving public history and cultural heritage

  • Immigration policies and reforms

  • Urban renewal projects and “community development”

  • Sexual violence against women and/or the LGBT community

  • Gender inequality, particularly in light of recent attempts to legislate women’s bodies and healthcare in the United States or abroad

  • Marriage equality, LGBT rights, and other normative forms of inclusion

  • The relationship between the text and the critic

  • Protest as performance and performance as protest

We welcome proposal submissions of full panel discussions (3 or 4 panelists), roundtable discussions (4-5 participants), or individual papers. If you submit an individual proposal, we may place you in a panel with 2 or 3 other presenters working on similar topics. You will have 15 minutes to present your paper. Each panel discussion will be followed by a Q&A session. We also welcome proposals of performative works and art installations. This is an all-day event; breakfast and lunch will be provided on conference site.

Proposals of 200-400 words should be submitted at no later than 12:00 midnight on November 30, 2013. For questions about the conference, you can contact us at For more information about the Language, Literacy and Culture PhD program, visit The invitations to the conference will be sent out via email by January 15, 2014.


Thanks so much for passing on this CFP! It sound so fascinating, and you can definitely count on seeing a proposal from me :) I have recently been working with the Occuprint Portfolio in my university library and this may be the perfect place to bat around some of my thoughts.


I look forward to receiving your proposal! We are trying to make our debut conference different and meaningful, so here's hoping it works out that way. It sounds like you're doing some pretty interesting work yourself, so keep it up!