'Photos of the Gods': The Printed Image and Political Struggle in India

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Reaktion Books, 2004 - Art - 239 pages
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Mass-produced images have long been produced and used in India by religious and nationalist movements – the emergence of Indian-run chromolithograph presses in the late 1870s initiated a vast outpouring that have come to dominate many of India’s public and domestic spaces.

Drawing on years of archival research, interviews with artists and publishers, and the ethnographic study of their rural consumers, Christopher Pinney traces the intimate connections between the production and consumption of these images and the struggle against colonial rule. The detailed output of individual presses and artists is set against the intensification of the nationalist struggle, the constraints imposed by colonial state censorship, and fifty years of Indian independence. The reader is introduced to artists who trained within colonial art schools, others whose skills reflect their membership of traditional painting castes, and yet others who are self-taught former sign painters.

Photos of the Gods is the first comprehensive history of India’s popular visual culture. Combining anthropology, political and cultural history, and the study of aesthetic systems, and using many intriguing and unfamiliar images, the book shows that the current predicament of India cannot be understood without taking into account this complex, fascinating, and until now virtually unseen, visual history.
  

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Contents

The Possibility of a Visual History
7
Indian Images Under the Shadow of Colonialism
13
Staging Hinduism Lithographs and Popular Theatre in Calcutta 18701885
25
Peshwas Parrots and Bombs Lithnographs and Politics in Western India 18701885
45
Lithographs and the Camera in Bombay and Delhi 18901925
59
Pastoral Realism The Nathdvara Devotional Aesthetic 19251935
79
The Politics of Popular Images From Cow Protection to M K Gandhi 18901950
105
HalfSeen in Advance Picture Production in Independent India 19502000
145
The Recursive Archive
201
References
211
Select Bibliography
223
Acknowledgements
226
A Note on Transliteration
227
List of Illustrations
228
Index
231
Copyright

What Pictures Want Now Rural Consumers of Images 19802000
181

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About the author (2004)

Christopher Pinney is Senior Lecturer in Material Culture at University College London. He is the author of Camera Indica: The Social Life of Indian Photographs (1997).


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