The Institute of the Humanties Faculty Fellows are released from their usual teaching and service duties to pursue their research, while taking up residence at the institute for the full academic year, participating in the weekly fellows seminar, and presenting a lecture in our Hear, Here: Humanities Up Close series.
Professor Rai's project, titled, "Networked Bollywood: Star Switching Power and the Globalization of Indian Cinema" presents an oft-elided history in narrativizing Bollywood’s globalization and India's cinematic diplomacy that has focused only on the industrial exchange where stars feature as valuable commodities within the exchange rather than as critical drivers of globalization and soft power. This interdisciplinary project necessitates a rethinking of film/star/industry studies as well as cultural diplomacy that have often functioned as disconnected, exclusionary scholarly frameworks by demonstrating the interconnected dovetailing that situates specific individuals as agentic nodes that can catalyze change within industrial and political realms. Rai's work demonstrates that in the global south, the paradigm for star power compels us to think beyond Anglocentric paradigms to emphasize lateral south-south flows of cultural influence. While chronicling this perspective, this project also foregrounds and challenges the power differential and gendered nature of star power in a masculinist industry.