Social Science Research Council Research AMP Mediawell

Multiple interfaces: Social media, religious politics, and national (un)belonging in India and the diaspora

Udupa, Sahana; Kramer, Max
American Ethnologist

In India and its diaspora in the UK, online activities of various sorts—tweeting, blogging, messaging, trolling, and tagging—have become central to tensions surrounding religion’s presence in public life and the stakes of belonging to the nation. Three clusters of social media practices undergird these digital mediations: piety, surveillance, and fun. Such practices reveal how internet-enabled mediations reenergize religion as a political category of difference under majoritarian right-wing regimes and the transnational context of Islamophobia, while also offering distinct possibilities for imagining politics through the pleasures, visibilities, and reflections induced by digital circulations. Rather than approaching the internet as an abstract technological context or discrete channels for communication, this analysis theoretically positions it as an arena of “multiple interfaces.” It signals contiguities and collisions that digital practice has opened up among the very real communities and structures of authority, under conditions shaped by longer colonial histories.