Producing and Consumming Photography in South Asia (ECSAS 2018)


Paris, France, 24-27 July 2018, EHESS

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The call for papers for the panel “Producing and Consuming Photography in South Asia (1840-1980)” will be open in September 2017.

This panel is coordinated by Vanessa Caru & Zoe Headley

This panel seeks to interrogate the social, material, and retail conditions of production, diffusion and consumption of commercial photography in south Asia from its arrival in 1840 up to the introduction of mechanized processing and printing in the mid 1980s.

This panel seeks contributions pertaining to the history of the commercial practices and popular uses of photography in South Asia between 1840 and 1980. Though the history of photography in the subcontinent has some superb coffee table books, that its use by the colonial administration and local princely states has benefited from some in-depth scholarly scrutiny, that solid but scarce work from Madhya Pradesh and Bengal tell us about commercial studio photography, the social history of commercial studio photography and the visual rhetoric of the family portraits they produced has failed to attract sufficient scholarly attention.

This panel seeks to interrogate the social, material, and retail conditions of production, diffusion, and consumption of commercial photography in South Asia. Papers can address a variety of topics pertaining to the relationship entertained by the majority of the population with photography, which gave them access to an emblematic prerogative of modernity: to have their picture taken.
These may be :
– the diffusion and adaptation of photographic process in a colonial context;
– the development, in a caste society, of the profession of commercial photographer;
– biographies of early commercial studio photographers;
– corollary skills and professions which emerged from the establishment of photo studios;
– the use of family portraits in households and the use of hybrid photo-objects in rituals;
– the impact of the introduction and consumption of studio portraits on vernacular notions of personhood and kin.
For further information and application, please visit the ECSAS website:
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