Gurus and Media
Sound, Image, Machine, Text and the Digital
- ISBN: 9781800085558
- Published By: UCL Press
- Published: September 2023
Gurus and Media is the first book dedicated to media and mediation in domains of public guruship and devotion. Illuminating the mediatisation of guruship and the guru-isation of media, it bridges the gap between scholarship on gurus and the disciplines of media and visual culture studies. It investigates guru iconographies in and across various time periods and also the distinctive ways in which diverse gurus engage with and inhabit different forms of media: statuary, games, print publications, photographs, portraiture, films, machines, social media, bodies, words, graffiti, dolls, sound, verse, tombs and more.
The book’s interdisciplinary chapters advance, both conceptually and ethnographically, our understanding of the function of media in the dramatic production of guruship, and reflect on the corporate branding of gurus and on mediated guruship as a series of aesthetic traps for the captivation of devotees and others. They show how different media can further enliven the complex plurality of guruship, for instance in instantiating notions of ‘absent-present’ guruship and demonstrating the mutual mediation of gurus, caste and Hindutva.
Throughout, the book foregrounds contested visions of the guru in the development of devotional publics and pluriform guruship across time and space. Thinking through the guru’s many media entanglements in a single place, the book contributes new insights to the study of South Asian religions and to the study of mediation more broadly.