Radiant Infrastructures

Media, Environment, and Cultures of Uncertainty

Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 86 illustrations Published: March 2020

Author: Rahul Mukherjee

Asian Studies > South Asia, Environmental Studies, Media Studies > Media Technologies

In Radiant Infrastructures Rahul Mukherjee explores how the media coverage of nuclear power plants and cellular phone antennas in India—what he calls radiant infrastructures—creates environmental publics: groups of activists, scientists, and policy makers who use media to influence public opinion. In documentaries, lifestyle television shows, newspapers, and Bollywood films, and through other forms of media (including radiation-sensing technologies), these publics articulate contesting views about the relationships between modernity, wireless signals, and nuclear power. From testimonies of cancer patients who live close to cell towers to power plant operators working to contain information about radiation leaks and health risks, discussions in the media show how radiant infrastructures are at once harbingers of optimism about India's development and emitters of potentially carcinogenic radiation. In tracing these dynamics, Mukherjee expands understandings of the relationship between media and infrastructure and how people make sense of their everyday encounters with technology and the environment.


“With an inventive interdisciplinary approach and engaging literary style, Rahul Mukherjee presents the new concept and analytical device of radiant infrastructures. His book makes an important contribution to media and infrastructure studies by providing new understandings of infrastructure as a radiant system.” — Jennifer Gabrys, author of Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet

“Drawing on wide-ranging ethnographic and media research, Rahul Mukherjee has crafted an insightful account of what ‘radiant infrastructures’ like cell phone towers and nuclear reactors tell us about India's media ecology. Tracking environmental controversies surrounding new technologies, Mukherjee does a superb job of analyzing the role of media in shaping new cultures of uncertainty in countries like India. A major contribution to media studies, environmental studies, and critical infrastructure studies, this book is sure to inspire scholars interested in media technologies and politics in South Asia and beyond.” — Aswin Punathambekar, author of From Bombay to Bollywood: The Making of a Global Media Industry

"Written in a lively and polemic style, the book is a compelling read. . . . Radiant Infrastructures skillfully cuts across and contributes to key debates on infrastructure, global media, postcolonialism, materiality, and global publics within media and communication studies, as well as to science and technology studies by outlining the role of media—broadly defined—in shaping scientific controversies, and it will be a compelling reading for a broad range of readers." — Julia Velkova, Television & New Media


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Rahul Mukherjee is Dick Wolf Assistant Professor of Television and New Media Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Table of Contents Back to Top

Acknowledgements  vii
Introduction. Radiant Energies and Environmental Controversies  I
1. Debating Cell Towers  39
2. Contested Nuclear Imaginaries  70
3. Emissions  106
4. Exposures  138
5. Styling Advocacy: Activism and Citizenship  163
Conclusion  192
Notes  219
References  241
Index  259

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