Platform Capitalism, Communication and Culture in South Asia

South Asian Studies Association of Australia (SASAA) Research Symposium 2019

Geralt [CC0] This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain DedicationWe are pleased to announce that Curtin University, in conjunction with the University of Queensland’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), will be hosting a South Asian Studies Association of Australia (SASAA) research symposium: Platform Capitalism, Communication and Culture in South Asia between the 18th and 19th June 2019.  

This research symposium aims to bring together original and up to date work on the emergence of platform economies in South Asia. Amongst the eight nations comprising the region, the sheer scale of the platform economy in India is conspicuous. For example, the size of India’s platform economy is commonly captured by its standing as the second-largest market globally for 'technology companies' such as Facebook and Uber. With nine major linguistic media markets, 150 million broadband users, and over 250 million people participating in the digital economy, India alone represents platform experiences as rich and as diverse as those in ASEAN or the EU. For India, the undeniably close relationship with Silicon Valley operates alongside domestic adaptations and usages of the platform model by commercial businesses, by civil society and by the state. In this setting, important roles are being played by digital platforms in capturing social economies that have long been outside of the accounting process. Platform logics have been equally crucial in facilitating the onset of radical experiments in universal biometrics and cashless transactions, domains where India is being used as a laboratory for a global digital society.

While India itself is comparable in scale, scope and diversity with other major regional markets in the digital economy, it is joined by other countries in South Asia that are seeking and seeing developments in digital infrastructure and services. For instance, over half of Sri Lanka’s population has access to 4G internet and the country was the first in South Asia to trial 5G internet. While Pakistan’s internet and broadband penetration is comparably lower, its country’s planning commission ‘Vision 2025’ views the rapid development of digital wireless networks as key to ‘smart and creative’ cities, a rejuvenated public service and the emergence innovative, knowledge-based industries.  How such initiatives intersects with other information markets, wider national economies, regulatory structures and cultural dynamics in South Asia is waiting to be systematically explored. The latter is particularly important given the intrinsically embedded nature of the region’s multiple media and mediated economies and the concerns over the manner in which religious, political and cultural unrest has been facilitated by new media and communication platforms. The ambit of platform capitalism in South Asia has a wide range of distinctive features that will be explored in this research symposium.

Platform Capitalism, Communication and Culture in South Asia will examine the ways in which the growing platformisation of not just communications and media but business and governmental operations is occurring in South Asia. The symposium will provide space for a number of researchers, including early career and established researchers, as well as HDR students, will present on different aspects of this emerging platform economy, including:

  • Platformisation of Media Content
  • Populism, Politics and Public Speech
  • Platforms, Sociability and Social Economies
  • Digital India and eGovernance
  • Information Infrastructure and Logistics
  • Platform Labour and Markets
  • Algorithms and Business Processes
  • Access and Inequalities in Digital Systems
  • Platforms Economies and Smart Cities
  • Digitalisation and Organizational Change
  • Ownership and Market Power in the Digital Economy
  • Retail, Marketing and Distribution in the Digital Era

Registration: Registration is free of charge for SASAA members and $35 for non-members. To be included in the workshop program, please submit an individual abstract of 250 words or a panel proposal of four to five abstracts by 18 February 2019 to Colleagues are very welcome to attend the workshop without presenting a paper. The program will be finalised and circulated in early March 2019

Organising Committee:

  • Scott Fitzgerald (Curtin University)
  • Adrian Athique (University of Queensland)
  • Vibodh Parthasarathi (Jamia Millia Islamia University)
  • Shishir Jha (IIT Bombay)

Venue: The workshop will be held at the Bentley campus of the Curtin University in Western Australia, and 10km drive from the Perth CBD.

Workshop format:Following the first day of formal papers, the second day will be run as a researchers’ workshop specifically designed to allow PG students and ECRs to discuss and develop their research projects.  

PhD travel bursaries: We have a limited number of postgraduate bursaries of $600 each available for students travelling to Perth to present at the workshop, and these will be awarded on a competitive basis. If you wish to be considered for one of these, please indicate this in your submission.

Accommodation: Workshop attendees are responsible for organising their own accommodation. A list of recommended options will be circulated with the program in March 2019.



Bentley campus of the Curtin University in Western Australia