Ph.D. 2000, NYU; M.A. 1994, University of Pennsylvania; B.A. 1991, Northwestern University.
Office Address: Rufus D. Smith Hall 25 Waverly Place New York, NY 10003
Areas of Research/Interest
anthropology of media, visual anthropology/visual culture, cultural policy, nationalism, postcolonial theory, capitalism, neoliberalism, globalization, Indian cinema, South Asia
Bollywood: A Guidebook to Popular Hindi Cinema, 2nd edition, Routledge, 2013
Producing Bollywood: Inside the Contemporary Hindi Film Industry, Duke University Press, 2012
Link to Facebook page
Bollywood: A Guidebook to Popular Hindi Cinema, Routledge, 2004.
“Corporatization and the Hindi Film Industry,” in Handbook of Indian Cinemas, eds. K. Moti Gokulsing & Wimal Dissanayake, Routledge Press, 2013
“No Longer a Frivolous Singing and Dancing Nation of Movie-Makers: The Hindi Film Industry and its Quest for Global Distinction," Visual Anthropology 25(4), 2012.
“Sentiments of Disdain and Practices of Distinction: Boundary-Work, Subjectivity, and Value in the Hindi Film Industry,” The Anthropological Quarterly 85(1), 2012.
“The Limits of Decency and the Decency of Limits: Censorship and the Bombay Film Industry,” in Censorship in South Asia: Cultural Regulation from Sedition to Seduction, eds. William Mazzarella & Raminder Kaur, Indiana University Press. 2009
"Mumbai vs. Bollywood: The Hindi Film Industry and the Politics of Cultural Heritage in Contemporary India,” in Global Bollywood, eds. Anandam P. Kavoori & Aswin Punathambekar, New York University Press. 2008
“And Yet My Heart Is Still Indian: The Bombay Film Industry and the (H)Indianization of Hollywood,” [Reprint] in Genre, Gender, Race, and World Cinema, ed. Julie F. Codell. Blackwell. 2007
“And Yet My Heart Is Still Indian: The Bombay Film Industry and the (H)Indianization of Hollywood,” in Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain, eds. L. Abu-Lughod, F. Ginsburg & B. Larkin. Univ. of California Press. 2002.
“Centenary Commemorations or Centenary Contestations? -- Celebrating a 100 Years of Cinema in Bombay,” Visual Anthropology 11(4), 1998.
Gimme Somethin’ to Dance to! (1995) – about the growing popularity of bhangra music in New York City
"What's in a Name?" CBC News
"The Debate over 'Bollywood'" CBC News
"Movie Lovers We Love: Bollywood Anthropologist Tejaswini Ganti Explains Why There's No Indie Industry in India" Indiewire.com
"Indian film industry (Bollywood) - Perspectives and outlook" MBA Crystal Ball
"Bollywood Sirens" On the Media, National Public Radio
"TIFF 2012: Beyond Bollywood at City to City" thestar.com
"Bollywood's Global Push" Christian Science Monitor, May 31, 2011
Current News / Projects
Updated March 2013
• My book, Producing Bollywood: Inside the Contemporary Hindi Film Industry was published in February 2012. The book explores the transformations in the Hindi film industry from 1995-2006, a period in which the economic ideals of neoliberalism came to be dominant in India. The book details how the Hindi film industry became “Bollywood” – a globally recognized and circulating brand of filmmaking, which is often posited by the international media as the only serious contender to Hollywood in terms of its global popularity and influence.
• My article, “Sentiments of Disdain and Practices of Distinction: Boundary-Work, Subjectivity, and Value in the Bombay Film Industry” was published in the Winter 2012 issue of Anthropological Quarterly (v.85 no.1). It examines the inordinate amount of criticism and contempt expressed by Hindi filmmakers about the workings of the industry as well as filmmakers’ efforts to assert their difference from that norm – ranging from discourses about behavior to a fetishization of new technology. I discuss how these sentiments and discourses play key roles in the self-making practices of Hindi filmmakers by operating as a form of “boundary-work,” the industry’s ideological efforts to define legitimate membership and practice, thus creating alternate regimes of value and criteria of prestige independent of commercial outcome.
• My article, “No Longer a Frivolous Singing and Dancing Nation of Movie-Makers: The Hindi Film Industry and its Quest for Global Distinction” was published in the Summer 2012 issue of Visual Anthropology (vol. 25, no. 4). The article describes the intense ambivalence that Hindi filmmakers express toward what is often regarded as the quintessential feature of their filmmaking practice – the elaborately choreographed and lavishly produced song and dance sequences that are the marker of “Bollywood’s” distinctiveness in the global media landscape. While scholars have maintained that cultural objectification and ethnic commodification are the hallmarks of capitalist cultural production in a global neoliberal economic order, I argue that the contemporary moment of Hindi filmmaking is marked by efforts to erase, rather than highlight, the signs of cultural difference in order to circulate and accrue distinction globally; Hindi filmmakers regard their cinema’s cultural distinctiveness, signified by lip-synch song sequences, as alienating and limiting, rather than as a source of profitability.
• The second edition of my book, Bollywood: A Guidebook to Popular Hindi Cinema (Routledge 2004), is currently in press and scheduled for publication in April 2013. The book has been updated to include current trends in Hindi filmmaking and changes in the political economy of the Hindi film industry. It also includes two new chapters – one about key themes and narrative conflicts in popular Hindi cinema; and another about significant genres of Hindi cinema.
• My chapter about the corporatization of the Hindi film industry for the Routledge Handbook on Indian Cinema is in press and scheduled for publication in early 2013. This chapter lays out the histories of capital formation and state policy in India that have enabled the structural reorganizations within the Hindi film industry, which allow for its further expansion into North America and increasing interaction with Hollywood studios.
• I am currently working on a scholarly review essay about anthropologists’ engagement with the concept of neoliberalism for the Annual Review of Anthropology scheduled for publication in volume 42, 2013.
• I have been giving a number of talks related to my recent book, Producing Bollywood, since Fall 2011. I was invited to speak at the respective South Asia seminars at Cornell and Syracuse University in September 2011; at NYU’s Cinema Studies Speaker Series in February 2012; at Rutgers University’s Department of Anthropology Speaker Series in April 2012; and at SUNY Stony Brook’s Charles B. Wang Center in November 2012.
• I have done book readings and signings of Producing Bollywood in April 2012 sponsored by the Indo-American Arts Council of New York; and in December 2012 as part of the Nutley (NJ) Public Library’s Monday Night Book Club’s Autumn Author Series.
• In November 2012, I was invited by the University of Leiden’s (Netherlands) Department of Anthropology to participate in the workshop, “Capturing the Public Eye: Publics, Visuality, and Affect.” Based on my research in the Hindi film industry, I presented a paper, “Bombay Filmmakers and Their Theories of Affect, Visuality, and Spectatorship.” This paper discussed how filmmakers theorize affect and the role it plays in filmmakers’ understanding of their practice.
• In October 2012, I was invited to participate in a symposium, “Arts in Contemporary India” at The College of New Jersey. My talk was entitled, “From Vice to Virtue: The Altered Status of Hindi Cinema in Contemporary India,” and discussed the Indian state’s attitudes and policies toward filmmaking and how they have changed over time in order to illustrate the significance of cinema in the politics of national prestige, nation-building, and modernization in contemporary India.
• In June 2012, I was invited to be a participant in a Roundtable Discussion on Cross-Cultural Film Remakes at the Media Across Borders Conference at the University of Roehampton in the U.K.
• I presented the paper, “Production Fictions: Managing Risk and Uncertainty in Bollywood” at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Montreal in November 2011. This paper was part of the panel, Media Industries: Ethnographies of Contemporary Commercial Media.