Call Center Agents and Expatriate Writers: Twin Subjects of New Indian Capital

  • Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan
Keywords: Call center, India, diaspora, literature, postcolonial, globalization

Abstract

This essay considers how and why the call center and the call center agent became the primary spatial, economic, and social signs of India’s insertion into global capitalism in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It describes how the call center achieved metonymic relation to the New India through its simultaneous treatment in a range of literary and critical texts, genres, and disciplines that jointly produced the discourse on India’s global emergence. Against arguments for the call center’s newness, this essay argues that the call center agent became the paradigmatic New Indian subject because of her continuity with, as opposed to her disruption of, earlier forms of Indian global subjectivity. The call center does not mark a decisive transition from the postcolonial to the global. Rather, the forms of economic and social (im)mobility presented by the call center agent, as well as her linguistic and vocal performances of India and Indianness, are formally symmetrical to those of the expatriate writer in diaspora, the “global” figure who dominated Indian Anglophone literature and criticism in its “postcolonial” phase, prior to its transfiguration into the world Anglophone literary rubric.

Author Biography

Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan

Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan is an Assistant Professor of English and Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory at the University of Arizona. Recent essays on contemporary literature, postcolonial and feminist studies, and Indian globalization are published or forthcoming in a range of venues including The Comparatist, Comparative Literature Studies, GLQ, Interventions, Qui Parle, Verge, Women & Performance, and the Oxford Research Encyclopedia. Srinivasan is also an award-winning journalist and former editor of India Currents magazine, with bylines in international publications including NewYorker.com, Public Books, L.A. Review of Books, The Caravan, Guernica, and Himal Southasian. More information is available from www.raginitharoorsrinivasan.com.

Published
2018-11-20