The Landscape of Advertising in North India: Languages, Scripts, and the Politics of Education

Chaise LaDousa has been visiting Varanasi and Delhi, two cities in North India, for the past two decades in order to explore the relationship between language and schooling in India’s rapidly changing economy.  A major sociolinguistic phenomenon in North India is the advertising done in public, often for schools.  Advertising can draw words from Hindi and English and can represent those words in Devanagari and roman script.  LaDousa has photographed hundreds of examples of advertising in the two cities, and published an article in the journal Language in Society about the ways that lexical and script combinations in such advertising renders Varanasi – via language and schooling – a peripheral place vis-à-vis Delhi. The goal of the proposed project is to more precisely catalog the locations for advertisements as well as take more precise note of what languages are used in advertisements in which scripts.  By being methodical about such features of advertising, LaDousa and Anibarro will be able to establish an archive of advertising and its constitution by language and script the like of which does not currently exist.  Furthermore, they will be able to trace innovations in how school advertising draws on Hindi and English and on Devanagari and roman script.  They will be able to create a module for use in LaDousa’s course, Anthropology 270W: Ethnography of Literacy and Visual Language, as well as give LaDousa a base from which to write and submit to a journal a follow-up piece to his earlier publication.  Finally, the project will provide a launching point for further research to be conducted by LaDousa and Anibarro in India during the summer of 2018. 

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