Artefacts of community
As the digital intermediates and textures our life-worlds, a curious artefact has silently claimed a place among the ephemera of daily life: the screenshot.
After my recent PhD fieldwork in South India where I worked with the Telangana Gig and Platform Workers’ Union, I sat down to parse my phone’s ‘Fieldwork’ photo folder. Here too were numerous screenshots: some taken by me, and others by drivers and union organisers. In recounting their experiences, a frequent refrain from my interlocutors was, “Shall I send you a screenshot?”—offered to add context, or to corroborate, with the sense perhaps that these tangible and unambiguous artefacts would infuse their narrations with veracity, legitimacy
In the Telegram groups that drivers, in their thousands, use to support one another, screenshots were standard fare. Usually captured within Ola and Uber ride-hailing apps, drivers use them to highlight these companies’ opaque wage (mis)calculations, app glitches, and other perplexing logics, often unjust.
In capturing and sharing such moments of their daily digital work-lives, individual workers’ politics, through repetition, deliberation, and discussion, percolate into a collective sense of identity and dreams of labour futures.
Srujana Katta was invited by Yung Au to contribute to "Reframing a glossary". Find out more.
Suggested Citation:Katta, S. (2023) 'Communities', The Photographers’ Gallery: Unthinking Photography. Available at: https://unthinking.photography/articles/communities