Over the last ten years, The Sarai programme at CSDS has arguably been South Asia’s most prominent and productive platform for research and reflection on the transformation of urban space and contemporary realities, especially with regard to the interface between cities, information, society, technology, and culture.
Sarai began work in 2000 on issues of media, urban life, and the public domain, at a time when such issues were hardly on the horizon in India. In addition, Sarai brought together academics and practitioners in a new dialogue and collaboration. Sarai was initiated by Ravi Vasudevan, Ravi Sundaram , both faculty at CSDS; and the Raqs Media Collective (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula & Shuddhabrata Sengupta). Sarai’s early research foci on urbanization, media life, and information are now part of any serious thinking about the contemporary. Since its inception, Sarai has initiated research projects on media urbanism, Cybermohalla, critiques of intellectual property, free software, art practice and the public realm, language and the city, and many others.
It has supported unique independent fellowship programmes, and held a host of events including conferences, workshops, and performances. Like all experimental research initiatives in India, Sarai has seen cycles of expansion and contraction, involving the dispersion of some nodes and the emergence of new sites and publics.