In Doing Style, Constantine V. Nakassis explores the world of youth and mass media in South India, where what Tamil youth call “style” anchors their day-to-day lives and media worlds. Through intimate ethnographic descriptions of college life in Tamil Nadu, Nakassis explores the complex ways that acts and objects of style such as brand fashion, English slang, and film representations express the multiple desires and anxieties of this generation, who live in the shadow of the promise of global modernity.
As Nakassis shows, while signs of the global, modern world are everywhere in post-liberalization India, for most of these young people this world is still very distant—a paradox that results in youth’s profound sense of being in between. This in-betweenness manifests itself in the ambivalent quality of style, the ways in which stylish objects are necessarily marked as counterfeit, mixed, or ironical. In order to show how this in-betweenness materializes in particular media, Nakassis explores the entanglements between youth peer groups and the sites where such stylish media objects are produced, arguing that these entanglements deeply condition the production and circulation of the media objects themselves. The result is an important and timely look at the tremendous forces of youth culture, globalization, and mass media as they interact in the vibrancy of a rapidly changing India.