No room for dissent: Domesticating WhatsApp, digital private spaces, and lived democracy in India

Williams, Philippa, Kamra, Lipika, Johar, Pushpendra, Khan, Fatma Matin, Kumar, Mukesh and Oza, Ekta (2022) No room for dissent: Domesticating WhatsApp, digital private spaces, and lived democracy in India. Antipode, 54 (1). pp. 305-330. ISSN 00664812

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WhatsApp and digital private spaces are transforming the quality of lived democracy in India today. Bringing together STS, geographies of democracy, digital and political anthropology, and feminist approaches to the home, this paper makes visible how the Silicon Valley imaginary of the “digital living room” is domesticated in India. Drawing on digital ethnographic research in urban north India we show how WhatsApp is being used by the Hindu right to digitise new party-political intimacies. This has implications for how people at the margins of Hindu nationalist politics dwellin the “digital living room”. Framed as a home like space, we problematise Facebook’s “spatiotechnical” utopia by making visible how kinship and (domestic) politics are newly entangled in digital private spaces. Finally, we document how WhatsApp is deployed as a technology of discipline to determine modes of appropriate sociality and reconjure spaces of digital-physical inclusion/exclusion in the making of India’s “ethnic democracy”

Item Type: Article
Keywords: WhatsApp | Digital Private Space | Hindu Nationalism | Lived Democracy | Kinship
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Social Sciences (General)
JGU School/Centre: Jindal School of Liberal Arts & Humanities
Depositing User: Amees Mohammad
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2022 07:14
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2022 06:28
Official URL: 10.1111/anti.1277
Funders: WhatsApp, United States of America
Additional Information: We are grateful to all those who took time out to discuss their everyday lives and WhatsApp, particularly research participants. As authors we contributed to this paper in different ways. Williams led on the writing and research concept while desk-based research, literature review, analysis and writing-editing were undertaken by Williams and Kamra. Johar, Khan, Kumar, and Oza conducted research in New Delhi and Varanasi and contributed to conversations that helped to seed ideas in the paper. Special thanks to the four anonymous reviewers and the Antipode Editorial Collective, in particular Dave Featherstone, for their comments on earlier drafts which helped to significantly strengthen our arguments. Thanks also to Kerry Holden and Emily Dawson for sparking ideas on the politics of digital technology and to WhatsApp for funding this research. We are thankful to Letıcia Cesarino for translating the abstract into Portuguese. To readers, thank you for reading, we welcome your thoughts on this paper.


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