Law, Media and Technology

Home/ Law, Media and Technology
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveNA4

Course coordinator and team Lawrence Liang

Does the course connect to, build on or overlap with any other courses offered in AUD?

There have been courses offered on constitutional law as well as the courses on speech laws. This course builds on some of the core questions that have been investigated in these courses but pays specific attention to the overlap between law, media and technology.

Specific requirements on the part of students who can be admitted to this course: (Pre-requisites; prior knowledge level; any others – please specify)


No. of students to be admitted (with justification if lower than usual cohort size is proposed):

As per so AUD rules

Course scheduling (semester; semester-long/half-semester course; workshop mode; seminar mode; any other – please specify):

Semester long

How does the course link with the vision of AUD?

In keeping with the tradition of innovative and interdisciplinary courses within AUD, this course attempts to combine media theory, media history and law.

How does the course link with the specific programme(s) where it is being offered?

This is a course that has been designed keeping in mind the specific request from students asking for a specialised short course which will equip them to understand contemporary debates around media, politics and law

Course Details:



This course examines the intersection between law, media and technology. In contrast to existing approaches to the study of “media laws” which tends to study these questions only from the perspective of speech and expression, this course serves as an interdisciplinary enquiry combining media history, media theory and law. It is premised on the argument that a comprehensive understanding of the interaction between law and media requires us to pay close attention not only to the question of content regulation but also the physical, cultural and political infrastructure of media and its role in shaping a distinct public sphere in India. Rather than studying media as an amorphous whole, this course will focus on one crucial site in the post independence history of India namely cinema. The methodology and argument in this course will then be applied to other media forms.

From its inception in the colonial period (where it was greeted by immense anxieties of regulation) to the recently concluded controversy over the release of Padmaavat, cinema in India has remained one of the most crucial sites to understand the intersection of law, culture and politics. Both law and cinema stage powerful dramaturges that speak to millions of people and it is almost impossible to understand the public sphere in India without a reference either to law or cinema. In that sense it could be argued that they share a common basis in the performative relationship that they have to power and authority. It is therefore not surprising that these two institutions would also have a mutually competitive and antagonistic relationship. If on the one hand cinema and practices of film going are over determined by the law (from censorship to cinema halls and copyright) – then at the same time cinema has always asserted its diegetic sovereignty in which the ordered worlds of law collapse giving way to melodramatic and fantastical possibilities of justice.

As institutions that stake a claim on public imagination, both law and cinema occupy important roles with their ability to shape the everyday lives of millions of people. While law and cinema have often been seen as distinct force fields of power and culture respectively, this separation is surprising given how these two worlds persistently cross reference each other. In this course we will attempt to understand the fascinating and intersection of law and Cinema from multiple perspectives which allows us to frame a large understanding of law and media in a historical and political perspective.

Expected learning outcomes:

A sharper understanding of the relationship between media and the public sphere in the context of postcolonial history in India. By focusing specifically on one specific site, namely Cinema, the course will provide them with an intuitive understanding of the relationship between affect, law and technology. It also moves them beyond the conventional approach to the study of media laws which tends to focus only on the doctrinally and constitutional debates where is this course will alert them to the necessity of paying attention to media histories and the histories of infrastructure and technology in the shaping of political discourse in India.

Students will be expected to choose a media form early on in the course (radio, telephones, social media, internet etc), and will be expected to work with that specific media form linking to the arguments and approaches illustrated by our study of law and cinema.

Overall structure (course organisation, rationale of organisation; outline of each module):

Contents (week wise plan with readings):