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Formations of Indian Cinema in Dublin: A Participatory Researcher-Fan Ethnography

Giovanna Rampazzo

External Examiner: Professor Adrian Athique, University of Brisbane, Australia
Date Awarded: 2016
Giovanna Rampazzo SEPR graduated thesis 2017


This thesis explores emergent formations of Indian cinema in Dublin with a particular focus on globalising Bollywood film culture, offering a timely analysis of how Indian cinema circulates in the Irish capital in terms of consumption, exhibition, production and identity negotiation. The enhanced visibility of South Asian culture in the Irish context is testimony to, on the one hand, the global expansion of Hindi cinema, and on the other, to the demographic expansion of the South Asian community in Ireland during the last decade. Through varying degrees of participant observation in and across sites of film production and consumption, alongside interviews with South Asian and western social actors with an interest in Indian cinema, this thesis critically frames manifestations of Indian film culture in Dublin; crucially, it does so via my dual positionality as a fan of Bollywood cinema and a researcher, embedded in new formations of Indian cinema in the Irish capital. Drawing on existing literature surrounding the globalisation and circulation of Hindi cinema outside the Indian subcontinent (Rajadhyaksha 2003; Desai 2004; Athique 2005, 2008b; Dudrah 2012) and fan studies (Jenkins 1992, 2006b; Monaco 2010; Duffett 2013), this thesis endeavours to explore the circulation and the social dynamics of Indian cinema, with particular attention to its impact on Irish urban spaces and in constituting subjectivities in the context of the social and economic changes occurring in Ireland since the last decade.

 Conducted through the lens of fandom, this study foregrounds the relevance of fan studies in promoting a richer understanding of a globalised and transnational cultural product such as Indian film in its multiple manifestations across the Irish capital, contextualising the complexity of the cultural practices and social environments involved. Significantly, my passionate interest in Bollywood cinema led me on a journey through various sites where Indian films are produced, consumed and exhibited, foregrounding the sheer diversity of modes of circulation and engagement that characterises the emergence of Indian film culture in Dublin. Immersive participant observation as a Hindi film fan thus represented an innovative approach to the exploration of the presence of Indian film in transnational contexts, which further contributes to Indian film studies and to the growing field of transnational cinema.