Afterimage of Empire
Photography in Nineteenth-Century India
Publication Year: 2012
Afterimage of Empire provides a philosophical and historical account of early photography in India that focuses on how aesthetic experiments in colonial photography changed the nature of perception. Considering photographs from the Sepoy Revolt of 1857 along with landscape, portraiture, and famine photography, Zahid R. Chaudhary explores larger issues of truth, memory, and embodiment.
Chaudhary scrutinizes the colonial context to understand the production of sense itself, proposing a new theory of interpreting the historical difference of aesthetic forms. In rereading colonial photographic images, he shows how the histories of colonialism became aesthetically, mimetically, and perceptually generative. He suggests that photography arrived in India not only as a technology of the colonial state but also as an instrument that eventually extended and transformed sight for photographers and the body politic, both British and Indian.
Ultimately, Afterimage of Empire uncovers what the colonial history of the medium of photography can teach us about the making of the modern perceptual apparatus, the transformation of aesthetic experience, and the linkages between perception and meaning.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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INTRODUCTION: Sensation and Photography
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How might we reorient our understandings of colonial representations if we shift our focus to that interface between bodies and world that is the precondition for making meaning? In Afterimage of Empire I argue that, following the well-traveled routes of global capital, photography arrives in India not only as a technology of the colonial state but also as an instrument that ...
ONE: Death and the Rhetoric of Photography: X Marks the Spot
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Harriet Tytler, who, along with her husband, Robert, photographed many sites of the Sepoy Revolt, was born in India but, like many others, thought of herself as a foreigner to it. Yet as a small child (“a little over two years old”), when her mother was about to depart, leaving her in the care of her aunt and uncle, Tytler exclaimed to her mother, “Hum janta mamma chulla gia, chulla ...
TWO: Anaesthesis and Violence: A Colonial History of Shock
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The constantly encountered assertion that savages, blacks, Japanese are like animals, monkeys for example, is the key to the pogrom. The possibility of pogroms is decided in the moment when the gaze of a fatally-wounded animal falls on a human being. The defiance with which he repels this gaze—“after all, it’s only an animal”—reappears ...
THREE: Armor and Aesthesis: The Picturesque in Difference
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Psychoanalysis does not make freedom impossible; it teaches us to think of this freedom concretely, as a creative repetition of ourselves, We are leaving the scenes of –, and in this chapter I extend the discussion of anaesthesis in the context of the entirely diﬀerent genre of landscape photography. Because the Sepoy Revolt continued to resonate in ...
FOUR: Famine and the Reproduction of Affect: Pleas for Sympathy
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The pain we feel, prompts us to relieve ourselves in relieving those who suﬀer; and all this antecedent to any reasoning, by an instinct The images of things are the very aﬀections of the human body.In my account thus far, the question of faith keeps returning in various forms: our faith in the indexical truth of the photograph, in rumor, in aesthetic ...
CODA: Sensing the Past
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Knowledge is never categorical; it is always conditional. We can never be the past; it is only a spectacle before us, which is there for us to question. The questions come from us, and thus the responses in principle do not exhaust historical reality, since historical reality Instruction is the only nexus of the free union of the old with the ...
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This book began with a conversation with Finbarr Barry Flood about Felice Beato’s famous photograph from Sikanderbagh. The conversation snowballed into a graduate seminar paper for Natalie Melas and Susan Buck-Morss, both of whom kindly allowed me to submit the same paper for their seminars, thereby giving me the time to conduct extensive research and to fall under the ...
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Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2012