Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Photographs as history

Over the last 30 years, the bibliography of books on colonial photography, by the British as well as native photographers, has become quite long. The earliest was The Last Empire: Photography in British India, 1855-1911 by Clark Worswick and Ainslee T. Embree (Aperture, 1976); since then, many more publications have accompanied landmark curatorial projects, significantly advancing the study of photography in colonial India. The Marshall Albums is part of this effort and the Alkazi Collection should be commended for continuing to publish, with remarkable consistency, its vast archive and creating opportunities for extending research.


Since the 1980s, Subaltern Studies, its re-inscription of the colonial experience from the perspective of the oppressed and the dominated, semiotics, and the politics of representation have affected what scholars choose to study. The colonial experience and the creation of popular culture, both for the imperialist and the native, have brought photography centre stage. Not only is photography the “primary documentation”, it is also the first modern industrial technology of representation that grew hand in hand with Euro-American empire-building and with popular demands for images that could be acquired, circulated, and thus created opportunities for self-representation to the under-represented classes of people and objects.

Full report here Hindu

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