Andrew Alter is currently undertaking research amongst musicians in the South Asian diaspora in Australia. In particular, he investigates the nexus between spirituality, ritual and geography as expressed through musical performance and epic traditions. Recent migrant communities from the Himalaya use digital sharing sites to view and listen to rituals back home.
A Himalayan Mahabharata performance ritual uploaded through Youtube by local residents.
In addition, his research examines mobile phones, SD cards, SIM cards, online streaming and other forms of digital storage and playback all of which comprise a new economy of distribution. The situation is one in which the livelihood of regional artists and studios in South Asia are seriously under threat. For instance, only twenty years ago Uttarakhand had one of India’s most vibrant local popular music cassette industries. Consequently, the region now offers a valuable case study of how neoliberal economics and digital technologies impact on the production and consumption of local artists and producers.
(Image: Painchi Maya, Pritam Bharatwan, Meena and Uma, T-Series, SGHNC:01/63)