The Coming of Photography in India

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Photography was discussed and practised in India within a few months of the announcement of Daguerre’s process in 1839. Photographic societies were established in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras in the 1850s and Indian-owned portrait studios flourished. By the end of the nineteenth century India was at the centre of a representational revolution. This book asks how we should understand the arrival of this new way of picturing the world. Was photography in India simply a void, waiting to be filled by pre-existing cultural and historical practice? Or was it disruptive, throwing up new opportunities, prophesying new social formations, and focusing anxieties about the new visibility of formerly secluded spaces and events? The Coming of Photography in India transcends traditional cultural and technological narratives in order to present a subtle and compelling account of the limits, possibilities and consequences of photography. Explaining the dynamic incarnation of photography as cure, poison and prophecy, Christopher Pinney presents a bold analysis which will reward anyone interested in India, photography, or the history of the book. Accompanied by beautiful images–a large number of which are previously unpublished–this volume presents a sophisticated account of the ‘disturbance’ which photography has brought to all of our lives.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Christopher Pinney

Christopher Pinney is Professor of Anthropology and Visual Culture at University College London. His chief interests are in commercial print culture and photography in South Asia and popular Hinduism in central India. He has held visiting positions at the Australian National University (Canberra), University of Chicago, University of Cape Town, Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois), Boğaziçi University (Istanbul) and Jagiellonian University (Krakow), among others. His publications include Camera Indica (1997), “Photos of the Gods” (2004), The Coming of Photography in India (2008) and Photography and Anthropology (2011). A book about mirages, The Waterless Sea, is forthcoming.


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Bibliographic information

The Coming of Photography in India
1st ed.
x+166p., colour Plates