Cultural Dynamics

The Melodramas of Globalization

This article posits a homology between (1) the developmentalist logic endemic

to hegemonic discourses of globalization and (2) the logic of the ‘too late’ that

drives the melodrama genre, to argue that the experience of globalization is,

itself, highly melodramatic. Focusing on the far-reaching transformations of the

Mumbai-based fi lm industry and its global epiphenomenon ‘Bollywood’, the

article critically analyzes the hooplas and anxieties that structure contemporary

Indian cultural nationalism. Countering overarching prognoses of global

homogenization, it draws attention to the myriad ground-level transactions

through which difference is capitalized and managed. This understanding

of melodrama as the persistence of difference helps explain the continuing

popularity of the genre in the global South.