In the world of globalized media, provocative images trigger culture wars between traditionalists and cosmopolitans, between censors and defenders of free expression. But are images censored because of what they mean, what they do, or what they might become? And must audiences be protected because of what they understand, what they feel, or what they might imagine?
Censorium is an innovative analysis of Indian film censorship. William Mazzarella argues that we must go beyond understanding the regulation of the cinema in India as a violation of free speech, as a colonial hangover, as a symptom of repressive moralism, or as a struggle between liberals and conservatives. Drawing on extensive archival research and interviews with leading Indian censors, filmmakers, lawyers, journalists, playwrights, and actors, Mazzarella’s study grants the censors the compliment they least expect: to be taken seriously. Rather than polemicizing against censorship from an external standpoint, Mazzarella rigorously explores the self-contradictory language of censorship from within. Ultimately, he shows us how film censorship is about far more than the movies—it is a key to understanding why political and cultural legitimacy is so unstable in mass-mediated societies.
This book will be of interest to general readers concerned with contemporary Indian culture and politics, and of specialist value to students and scholars of media studies, anthropology and sociology, and critical theory.
Introduction The Censor’s Fist
1. Performative Dispensations:
The Elementary Forms of Mass Publicity
2. Who the Hell Do the Censors Think They Are?:
Grounds of the Censor’s Judgment
3. We Are the Law!:
Censorship Takes to the Streets
4. Quotidian Eruptions:
Aesthetic Distinction and the Extimate Squirm
5. Obscene Tendencies:
Censorship and the Public Punctum