Beyond appearances?: visual practices and ideologies in modern India

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Sage, Mar 1, 2003 - Art - 412 pages
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`Beyond Appearances? provides a dynamic fourm for the main exponents of the anthropological turn in studies of South Asian popular visual culture, and will prove an inspiration for a generation of emerging scholars' - The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

A striking feature of modern-day society is the ubiquity of the visual or the image in everyday life. Modernity seems to be marked by the hegemony of its vision, with everything being measured by its ability to show or be shown. But how does this linking of the visual to the modern stand up to scrutiny when placed within the contexts of the complicated picture-worlds, print-complexes and image-cultures of India? This is the principal question that Beyond Appearances? investigates. The 11 essays in this book analyse the material and political work of a wide array of artefacts, media, and habits with the aim of understanding the principal contours of the visual practices and ideologies that distinguish an Indian modern.

Recognising the enormous power contained within images to transform and mobilise the self and the community, the contributors focus on a variety of visual media including calendar art, photography, theatre, popular cinema, documentary films and propaganda videos, maps and fine art. In the process, they also examine the inter-visual dialogue between these diverse media, exploring their underlying technologies of production and modalities of circulation and exchange.

The volume is also crucially concerned with understanding the role of visuality (broadly understood as regimes of seeing and being seen) in the constitution of national, ethnic, religious and community identities in modern India. The contributors contended that visuality does not lie outside history, culture or politics, and that the visual is constitutive of both the social and the political.

Overall, this volume draws attention to the fact that the visual can no longer be treated as a mere supplement to knowledge derived from written texts but constitutes a distinct field of enquiry. Multi-disciplinary, comprehensive and informative, this fascinating volume will be of interest to students and scholars in the fields of visual culture, sociology, anthropology, art history, political science and media studies.

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Mechanical reproduction and the world of the colonial artist
Krishna Lila Krishna dancing with Gopinis
Raga Panchama

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About the author (2003)

Sumathi Ramaswamy is Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, editor of "Beyond Appearances: Visual Practices and Ideologies in Modern India "(2003), and author of "Passions of the Tongue: Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891-1970 "(California, 1997).

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