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Rahul Mukherjee

English & Cinema Studies
University of Pennsylvania

Curriculum Vitae


Radiant Infrastructures such as atomic power plants and cell antennas activate an embodied and phenomenological notion of corruption. Radioactive nuclides emitted by nuclear reactors and electromagnetic fields generated by cell towers are feared to cause cancer and yet remain imperceptible to human senses. Such radiant energies power our lives and connect our phones, and yet at the same time seem to be uncannily entering into our lived environments, thus transgressing the purity of private-public and human-technology boundaries. Another kind of corruption that erupted during the environmental controversies related to the above-mentioned radiant technologies had to do with stakeholders unduly influencing media to either allay public apprehensions about invisible radiation or spread fear about its catastrophic effects. At one level, there were moral panics raised about such corruption, and yet at another level, corruption got recoded as tactic, performance, kinship, hospitality, and service. Considering the (postcolonial) specificity of India, I analyze both the political economy and cultural situated-ness of corruption, to argue that it is limiting to comprehend corruption as merely pathological or immoral because corruption can be part of informal workaround cultures and knowledge economies.

Rahul Mukherjee is the Dick Wolf Assistant Professor of Television and New Media Studies in the Cinema and Media Studies program (Department of English) at University of Pennsylvania. His book project examines environmental controversies related to radiant infrastructures such as nuclear reactors and cell antennas, which irradiate promises of development and simultaneously generate intense fears of carcinogenic radiations. His writings have appeared in the journals Media, Culture & Society, BioScope, New Media & Society, and Science, Technology & Human Values and several other edited collections and online journals. Drawing on the conceptual lenses of infrastructure studies, media anthropology, and environmental humanities, he has been studying public cultures of uncertainty about disruptive technologies by attending to frameworks concerned with affect, media practices, and relational ontologies. Rahul has been part of a collaborative project exploring ICT usage in Zambia and more recently has embarked on another fieldwork researching the use of memory cards and memory sticks as part of mobile media assemblages affording circulation of vernacular music videos in India.

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