Representations of the Past

Entangled Wavelengths. Translocal affect and affiliation among radio broadcasters and listeners of German international radio stations in Cold War India, 1964-1990.

Dr. Anandita Bajpai

This research project investigates the mutual entanglements of the cultural, political, and affective radiophonic repertoires devised by the two iconic German international broadcasting services, Radio Berlin International from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and Deutsche Welle from the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), during the Cold War years in India. Rather than limiting these entwined, often competing, trajectories of the two radio stations to a reductive comparison, the Indian perspective promises to reveal their complex histories as entangled and overlapping. How did India become a site for sonically mapping Cold War affiliations, and how did Indian actors respond to, profiteer from, and even co-shape inter-German competitive acoustic presences in the transnational space of radio broadcasts? The project probes into the interstitial affective spaces made of voices, ears and postal feedback, between the microphones in Bonn and East Berlin and local radio sets in India. It traces the translocal trajectories of entanglements among actors from the GDR, FRG and India and how short waves triggered the imagination of listeners in sub-urban/rural India to perform lived local internationalisms. Radio fan clubs thus inserted themselves in the wider global politics of a Cold War-torn world by staging solidarity with one or the other voice in the Cold War. The project is interdisciplinary in different regards: it mobilises both historical and anthropological methods including archival, oral historical and ethnographic research. It thus promises to combine and engage with theoretical debates from the fields of Cold War history, the history of emotions and a historical anthropology of material culture.