Tasveer Ghar: A Digital Archive of South Asian Popular Visual Culture

Newsletter April 20

Dear friends,

Following the publication of Philip Lutgendorf’s essay, Chai Why? The Triumph of Tea in India as documented in the Priya Paul collection, Tasveer Ghar is happy to announce the posting of the next round of essays by distinguished scholars across the world who have been commissioned to write for us using the images we have digitized from the Priya Paul collection.  The 4000+ images from this collection that have been digitized and catalogued are now hosted at Heidelberg University’s library database ‘Heidikon’ (with restricted access).

In the current round of essays, our three experts –Sandria Freitag, Abigail McGowan, and Arvind Rajagopal—use the evidence of popular visual culture to comment on the consumption practices of the “everyday” and of the modern Indian in twentieth-century India. Following upon Lutgendorf’s lively piece on what we learn from popular visual culture of how an “imperial thirst” is transformed into the national pastime of drinking tea, these essays get us to think about the manner in which everyday objects as well as innovative new commodities entering the Indian landscape are re-presented to the viewing public as things to be desired, purchased, owned, displayed, and to be associated with.  These essays also get us to reflect on the role that the alluring technologies of mass reproduction have played in creating new regimes of desire and consumption in Indian modernity. The images these authors bring to our attention present a uniquely distinct kaleidoscope of modernising and urbanising India in the light of work and leisure, gender and religion. 

We welcome you to read and enjoy—and leave comments on:

Sandria Freitag, Consumption and identity: Imagining ‘Everyday Life’ Through Popular Visual Culture



Abigail McGowan, Modernity at Home: Leisure, Autonomy and the New Woman in India



Arvind Rajagopal: The Commodity Image in the (Post)Colony (forthcoming)

We will soon be announcing essays by Richard Davis on the ubiquitous Hindu “god-poster,” and Shaswati Talukdar on the featuring of landscapes in colonial Indian postcards.  Other essays to follow have been authored by Sabeena Gadihoke, Ranjani Mazumdar, and Rosie Thomas.

The commissioning of these essays as well as the digitizing of Priya Paul’s collection were made possible with a generous grant from the Trehan Foundation at the University of Michigan and finalised with funding from the Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’.

The newsletter also announces the publication of Christiane Brosius’ monograph India’s Middle Class. New Forms of Urban Leisure, Consumption and Prosperity. New Delhi, London, New York: Routledge 2010, and Sumathi Ramaswamy’s latest book entitled The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010.

The Tasveer Ghar team