Economic liberalization and globalization in India in the early 1990s resulted in a whirlwind of consumerist activities. New material and visual temptations swamped the markets. Expanding field of commodification infiltrated consumer minds through media imageries. New objects of desire aroused inhibited cravings. This engendered an accelerated and intensified relationship with things and images that permeate our everyday lives.
Consumerist Encounters elucidates how our all-consuming relationship with objects and their representations have transformed rapidly over the last few decades in contemporary urban India. It argues that ephemerality, frivolousness, and multiplicity of choice regulate our flirtatious encounters with commodities and their images as we restlessly use, exhaust, dispose, and move on. Such a trend is illustrated by examining a plethora of commodity-centric phenomena such as exclusion through apparel, eroticization of body images, population of the T-shirt surface with graphics and text, rise of business process outsourcing, instantaneous seeing and sharing of images, and rejection of material goods in junkyards and ruins. These explorations collectively shed light on the constant negotiation of our identities, statuses, and mobilities in the image-saturated commodity landscape.
"The subject matter of this book was crying out for attention, and this has been attended to in this book with finesse, vigor and style. It teases out many aspects of contemporary society, which had earlier gone unnoticed. "
"Bhattacharya’s book raises some questions that are fundamental to the ways in which contemporary selves are fashioned. Bhattacharya deals with these questions through a series of striking explorations of relationships between commodities, visual culture and the quotidian meanings they make for a range of participants in dramatic new carnivals of sociality. The sustained attention – still remarkably rare – to what commodities make of us is Bhattacharya’s important contribution towards an inventive understanding of contemporary Indian life."
"Consumerist Encounters provides a theoretically insightful and engaging analysis of the complexities of consumer identities and relationships with commodities in post-liberalization India. The juxtaposition of highly visible commodities with spaces and sites of abandonment is a particularly thought-provoking approach that will be of value to anyone interested in grappling with the complexities of the middle classes and socio-cultural trends in contemporary India."
"This book offers a fresh perspective on the relationship of commodity worlds to the visual economies of contemporary capitalism. In Bhattacharya’s book the materiality of the commodity is connected with the disjunctive economies of visuality after globalization; we are presented with an arresting analysis of the fleeting world of surface culture. For Bhattacharya, the commodity surface exists in conjunction with ruin, decay and an obsessive desire, a remarkable collection of paradoxes that now define the contemporary. I am confident that Consumerist Encounters will open new debates on the making of contemporary India."
"Sreedeep releases ‘consumer culture’ from its earlier attribution to middle classness, trying to understand consumption as both a sensorial, agentive form of everyday culture and moral policing and as a potential field for critical thinking. In its broad, original and funky landscape of case-studies, this book is a fascinating read for various publics"