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