The Promises and Pitfalls of Modernity: An Ethnography of Young Catholic Women’s Media Practices for Claiming Cultural Citizenship in Urban India
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This dissertation is an ethnography of the media practices of young Catholic women in Mumbai, India. Media practices are conceptualized as cultural practices via which the participants in this study claimed cultural citizenship in order to challenge discourses that yoke national identity with Hindu culture and construct Catholicism as “foreign” and Catholic women as morally bankrupt and hypersexual. Media practices examined included practices related to photography, privacy, and safety using mobile phones and the consumption of television programs and movies. Through these practices, participants attempted to displace the link between Indianness and Hindu culture and show that Catholic culture can also reflect Indianness, when Indianness is defined in terms of being modern Indian woman because the discourse of modern Indian womanhood aligns with how middle-class Catholic culture is practiced in India. Indian modernity emphasizes cosmopolitanism and consumption (similar to Western modernity) but is also marked by an ongoing emphasis on valuing community building, particularly in the context of family. It is also gendered in that modern Indian women are expected to practice sexual sobriety. Through photography practices, participants showcased the various dimensions of Indian modernity. By using the mobile phone to ensure safety and privacy, participants navigated the gendered and classed dimensions of Indian modernity. Finally, media consumption patterns revealed how participants learned about and enacted Indian modernity. Thus, by expressing Indian modernity through their media practices, Catholic women claimed cultural citizenship.
Doshi, Marissa J (2014). The Promises and Pitfalls of Modernity: An Ethnography of Young Catholic Women’s Media Practices for Claiming Cultural Citizenship in Urban India. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from