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

Tasveer Ghar Fellowships 2007

on Gender, Nation and Spaces of the Everyday

Our deadline was April 30, 2007

Our deadline was April 30, 2007
We are no longer taking new proposals for the 2007 Fellowship and
have already selected the fellows. For 2008 fellowships, please click here

the Call for Proposals and FAQs in Word format
We invited proposals for short-term fellowships involving the collection and documentation of unique forms of popular visual arts of India with a focus on "Gender, Nation and Spaces for the Everyday", resulting in the digitization of the collected specimens and their virtual exhibition on the website of Tasveer Ghar at the end of the fellowship (in collaboration with the Institute of International Social History, Amsterdam). The estimated duration of the fellowship is 6 months.

What do we mean by Popular Visual Arts of India?
Indian streets and public spaces are full of a variety of popular art forms such as posters, prints, calendars, advertisements, hoardings, religious iconography, photo portraits, cinema images and so on, that reflect the changing aesthetics of the urban popular culture. Most of these art forms are rather transitory – you see them one day, and they disappear or transform the next day depending upon the changes in the lifestyles of the people, as well as the available techniques of image-making and duplication. There is an urgent need to collect/document these and study the context in which they are produced and used.

Despite the slipperiness of popular visual culture it is, as Patricia Uberoi has coined it, "ultimately more enabling than disabling... It may imply the everyday, unremarkable, and ordinary, or it may refer to dramatic eruptions against the established, normative order. It may indicate the culture of 'the people', in the sense of folk culture; of it may refer exclusively to products of the modern mass media in industrialized, capitalist societies, emphasizing their wide popularity, circulation, and saturation." (Patricia Uberoi. 2006. Freedom and Destiny. Gender, Family, and Popular Culture in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press: 4). Through this concept, we try to make critical interventions about the image as an arena of contestation between hegemonic ideas and resistance, link the image to its wider domain of visibility and performance; event and practice; to agents of production, dissemination and consumption of the 'imaginaire populaire', and to the ways in which pictures negotiate - and shape - images of the world, of Selves and Others.

Thus, through our engagements with setting up a digital database, we seek to transgress the borders of 'collecting' and displaying. We search for contexts, for ways of annotating without caging the image. For all this, we seek your participation - and the participation and support of other scholars and collectors of Popular Visual Culture in South Asia.

Theme for 2007: Gender, Nation and Spaces of the Everyday

What can we see, and argue, about representations of gender in contemporary popular visual media in India? In this project that will merge into a virtual exhibition, we engage in questions of how gender is represented in a range of still pictures: poster art, comics, postcards, record-covers, book illustrations, or advertisements. We are looking for people who want to explore and relate sets of representations of gendered identities to the creation of a) nationality, b) transnationality or c) regionality, for instance, by means of an already existing private collection or a cluster of images available in the public domain but yet not ‘captured’. How do these ‘families’ of images correspond or collide with complex concepts such as tradition and modernity; public and private; religion, governance and civil society? How do they foster notions of new lifestyles and taste, ‘new men’ and ‘new women’? Do these images, and the contexts in which they circulate, affirm stereotypes or contest and even subvert common clichés of womanhood, masculinity, or homosexuality? In what way are the images linked to particular rituals and other performative displays of feasting and entertainment, e.g. weddings, birthdays, national parades and holidays? How are these narratives challenged by burgeoning consumerism, new opportunities and choices offered by the liberalized market? What are the moral and social norms and cultural imperatives of seeing a set of selected images?

Some key issues that could be dealt with:
Commodification and objectification of women and men
Icons of the nation – heroes, villains, martyrs and heroines
Shifting frames: Gender between politics, religion and civility
Plurality and difference
Change of representations through new media technologies
Youth, Joint family, work, consumption, leisure
Romantic love, arranged marriage
Disjunctures between image and reading
Journeys/Circulations of icons
Desire, consumption and resistance: agency and alternative/dissident voices

We would like fellows to come up with ethnographies of images, with image essays, explore new patterns and chains of seeing and displaying gender. By ethnographies, what we mean is to provide "thick descriptions" for each collected image: not just contexts of production, but of circulation, usage, and so on; how each image might fit into a particular "inter-ocular" universe... Be really creative.

Before you write your proposal, kindly see our Frequently Asked Questions to get some practical tips on applying for this fellowship, such as who is eligible to apply, what does the fellowship provide, what should your proposal contain, and so on. Our Links page provides references to many resources that may help you to understand the subject better. If this call for proposals does not provide the right answers to your queries, please feel free to write to us.

Last date of submission of proposals was April 30, 2007