South Asian/Indian History

History 103F.003

Spring 2012
Instructor (text): 
2231 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
M 10-12P
<p>Dr. Sandria B. Freitag has long explored a range of source materials that can be used to answer new questions about non-elites in British Indian society (working on riots as windows into communal identity-formation; constructions of criminality; and visual culture for its revelations about popular values and motivations at work in public sphere activities). Publications include Community and Collective Action: Public Arenas and the Emergence of Communalism -- as well as numerous essays on crime and - the current project - on the emergence of photography and poster art as the first two &quot;mass media&quot; produced in British India These include, for instance, &quot;South Asian Ways of Seeing; Muslim Ways of Knowing: The Indian Muslim niche market in posters&quot; in Indian Economic and Social History Review, 44:3 (2007):297-331; and &quot;More Than Meets the (Hindu) Eye: The Public Sphere as a Space for Alternative Visions&quot; essay for Richard Davis (ed), Picturing the Nation (Orient Longman, 2007), 92-116. She teaches visual culture and modern South Asian history in the History Department of North Carolina State University.</p>

This course looks at the history of visual-cultural production in modern South Asia over 300 years (that is, covering the Mughal empire and its successor states; British India; and the independent nations of India and Pakistan after 1947). We examine visual evidence as a new way into the changing contexts of socio-political history, focusing on the interplay between elite and then popular patronage of cultural production and the values that expresses. This will help us trace connections between identity-formation and cultural production, as those change over time -- moving from what rulers patronized (e.g. in terms of building programs, painting and artisanal crafts) to how popular consumption served as a form of patronage in the 20th century. The main concern will be to develop an understanding of how South Asians came to depict themselves visually, looking at the roles of both producers and consumers, as well the relationship of these processes to the outside world (including global markets). The course will expose students to broader knowledge of an important regional area, and to the (relatively new) historical understandings based on visual evidence, seeking to understand a non-Western society through its visual culture. Using this knowledge, we also will test some theoretical approaches to 'the visual turn' in history.