This book, based on photographs taken in Bengal during the period 1875-1915, aims to introduce a new dimension to the experience of colonialism and reconstructs a history of growing urban Bengali middle-class society. Using rare archival photographs, Re-visioning the Past shows how the entry of the photograph into the domestic sphere coincided with significant familial and spatio-temporal change - and indeed served as a metaphor for the same.
Shortly after its discovery in 1839, the daguerrotype photograph found its way to British India and increasingly replaced portrait and group paintings by commissioned artists. In Calcutta, families who wished to be photographed by British photographers reflected a growing urban, middle-class sentiment: an enthusiasm for having one's image 'fixed' by this revolutionary medium. After the 1860s, individual portraits, those of the conjugal couple, family groups, the child - flooded the homes of bhadra samaj, material objects for display and admiration.
The camera recorded a changing Bengal in the nineteenth century, where has hitherto been little critical analysis of the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized. The colonial presence led to a collective introspection among educated Indians, and brought into play psychological conflicts over identity and belonging, which photography played a significant role in forming. Bengali entrepreneurial tradition in photography was established, and the contributions of three men - Rajendralala Mitra, Upendrakishore Raychaudhuri and Maharaja Birchandra of Tripura - are discussed.
Apart from being of interest to a general public, Re-visioning the Past is a significant contribution to cultural, postcolonial and gender studies, and will appeal to anthropologists, sociologists, social and cultural historians, and those interested in the visual arts.
About the Author:
Malavika Karlekar is Editor, Indian Journal of General Studies, and Curator, 'Re-presenting Indian Women 1875-1915: A Visual Documentary'.
Your email address will not be published *
Send as free online greeting card
for saving your wish list, viewing past orders, receiving discounts, and lots more...
Email a Friend