- Permanent Transiency, Tele-visual Spectacle, and the Slum as Postcolonial Monument
- South Asian Studies
- Volume | Issue number
- 29 | 1
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
With their makeshift structures and seemingly itinerant inhabitants, slums suggest transiency. Yet, like monuments, they acquire a paradoxical permanency in the context of continual social upheaval, the historical ebbs and flows of the nation-state, and the economic transformations engendered by global capitalism. Like monuments, then, they mark a politics of history and memory in their changing spatial dimensions and political valences. The spatial dimensions of this complex historicity of the slum are analyzed through the narratives, structures, and temporal plotting of the much-lauded if controversial film Slumdog Millionaire (2008). While the structural dynamic of the film mirrors the temporality of globalization as a teleological dynamic, by reading the film against the grain the essay constructs a double temporality of the postcolonial nation where teleology is interrupted by the fractious contradictions inherent in the figuration of the slum. The film's teleological narrative functions as a tele-vision, fixing the slum as a far-off object of aesthetic contemplation and visual pleasure, while the televisual formatting of the film through the TV quiz show fragments this visual narrativization of poverty and produces a counter-temporality of interruption. The interaction of history as preservation and transformation, exemplified in debates around monuments, produces a negative dialectic whose remainder is the slum as a recalcitrant reminder of the contradictions of monumental time.
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