British photographic history

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Book: Visual Histories: Photography in the Popular Imagination

Not much is known about how the coming of photography changed visual discourse or affected people's lives. Divided into two sections, this selection of 32 essays, each illustrated with archival photographs, looks at the camera in the colonial era and in post-independent India. 
In the nineteenth century, the camera and the studio became necessary prostheses in the new engagement between the colonized and the rulers. Europeans in India-of whom the British were the largest in number-were the initial users of the photographic studio. Early studio images of the sahib-civil servant, lawyer, tea planter, missionary, and so on-are among the first available visuals; soon the memsahib appeared at his side with or without self-conscious offspring. The events of 1857 marked a watershed in photography in India. By this time, as the urban middle classes started patronizing photographic studios, these became instrumental in fracturing notions of space and visibility: where the use of public space was governed by the discriminatory practices of race and gender, the photographic studio became a shared locale. Interestingly, Indian entrepreneurs started investing in studios and some like Lala Deen Dayal became noted photographers. The second section looks at some such moments, and studio photographs initially focused on the new Indian professional-the doctor, lawyer, engineer, and civil servant-and then with wife and children. It moves on to the emergence of the emancipated Indian woman, the horror of Partition, and finally to independent India and the work of Sunil Janah and Homai Vyarawalla. 
Together the 32 essays included in the volume document both: history through photographs and the history of photographs in India.

If this is of interest, you can pick up a copy at Amazon using the link on the right.

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