The Material and Visual Culture of British India

Christopher Pinney

in India and the British Empire

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199259885
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744587 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series

The Material and Visual Culture of British India

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Proposing a sideways move from approaches to the ‘cultural technologies’ of colonialism, which continue to relegate representation to a secondary ‘super-structural’ status, the essay explores a number of case studies that might affirm William Blake's provocation that ‘Empire follows Art’. Investigations of eighteenth-century image flows, debates over the most appropriate imperial architectural styles, photographic controversies around indigo production, and the ‘aesthetic’ nature of Gandhi's political project permit the testing of the trichotomy of ‘transculturation’, ‘purification’, and ‘autonomy’ which, it is suggested, may offer a nuanced alternative to the dichotomies established by the debates around Edward Said's Orientalism. Three final examples are intended to illustrate the proposal that the study of visual and material modalities points towards what might most productively be considered to be an alternative mode of historiography.

Keywords: visual culture; material culture; transculturation; purification; mimesis; photography

Chapter.  10115 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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