Theses Doctoral

Political Drama: Genealogy of a Degraded Form of Publicity

Yadav, Vivek

This dissertation challenges the populism paradigm, which is currently the most popular explanation of the developments of the past decade in Indian politics. Contesting this prevailing explanation, I offer an alternative diagnosis of the disease ailing democratic politics in India today—the rise of “political drama,” a degraded form of political practice that has arisen thanks to the rapid spread of news television.

Through a study of three political campaigns, the Salt Satyagraha of 1930, the Anna Hazare movement of 2011, and Narendra Modi’s electoral campaign of 2014, I trace the advent and subsequent elaboration of this theatrical form of political practice. This historical study is, moreover, foregrounded against a theory of democratic practice that has been tailored especially for India, and which conceptualizes the democratic process in India as the process of “publicity.” Against this theoretical background, political drama is shown to be a degraded form of publicity.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Thesis Advisors
Kaviraj, Sudipta
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 4, 2022