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Satish Poduval
Photo: Satish Poduval

Satish Poduval is Professor of Cultural Studies at the English and Foreign Languages University in Hyderabad, India. His research interests include film and media studies as well as critical theory, focussing on connections and differences between Western and (South) Asian approaches. 

In the first episode of the minor constellation podcast, co-hosted by Kathleen Samson and Yael Attia, Prof. Dr. Satish Poduval and Prof. Dr. Dirk Wiemann talk what it might mean to have a minor orientation in thinking and in practice. You can find the episode link here.


Satish Poduval
Photo: Satish Poduval

Interview with Prof. Poduval (winter term 2020/21)

Where will you be teaching from, now that you cannot come to Potsdam in person?

The pandemic has prevented me from travelling to Potsdam this winter. But rather than dropping out of the programme altogether, I thought it might be useful and fun to resort to plan B, like everybody everywhere.

I will be teaching from the city of Hyderabad where I have lived for most of my working life. Although not in the global spotlight to the same extent as other Indian megacities (such as Delhi, Mumbai or even Bengaluru), Hyderabad has been a historically and economically crucial metropolis driving transformations in both India and other parts of the world, especially during recent decades. On the one hand, it has been an epicentre for the Infotech, pharmaceutical, and film-production boom, as well as a key channel for the flow of capital between the rural/suburban and global networks. Equally, on the other hand, Hyderabad has witnessed major social and political mobilizations demanding--even wresting--greater "regional" autonomy for new initiatives in social inclusion and economic redistribution.

My primary institutional affiliation in Hyderabad is with the English and Foreign Languages University, where we have students and researchers from all over India and from different parts of the world. We encourage work on local, national and transnational issues within the critical humanities. Hopefully some of this work will be of interest to the students of global modernities at the University of Potsdam.

We shall navigate the distance between Berlin and Hyderabad digitally, yet try not to be otherwise distant!  

What are you looking forward to in the months that you will be spending with us?

I have visited the Department of British and American Studies at Potsdam a number of times earlier, and am reasonably well acquainted with some of the colleagues there. I look forward to engaging with the discussions taking place there on Anglophone modernities through the prism of German/Postcolonial perspectives. I am particularly interested in discussing and learning about how capitalist expansion, new social movements, and aesthetic subjectivation are occurring in "new Europe" and "contemporary India."

What does our MA programme's name "Anglophone Modernities in Literature and Culture" mean to you?

This double qualification--"Anglophone" and "Modernities"--intrigues and interests me. The first signals not merely the chosen field of focus within a "given" institutional/disciplinary context, but also to a reflexive awareness of linguistic and historical plurality that continues to shape our world. As a south Indian who has used three languages all through my life, I view this plurality not merely as a pragmatic or utilitarian toolkit but as touching the core of political existence.

Again, just as all roads need not necessarily lead to Rome, not all our human journeys, expeditions, adventures, or picnics need to be routed in a uniformly signposted and regulated autobahn called Modernity! So long as some imagined "alternative" is not uncritically embraced, the negative labour of tarrying with the plural suits me fine.

The "and" that connects Literature to Culture while simultaneously maintaining a separation strikes me as a necessary con-junction: there is some historical and conceptual overlap between the two entities involved, yet the theoretical fields and analyses associated with them do not always--thank goodness!--harmoniously converge. Their tense togetherness is the ground that is inhabited by the new critical humanities.