"Photos of the Gods"
The Printed Image and Political Struggle in India
Distributed for Reaktion Books
Drawing on years of archival research, interviews with artists and publishers, and the ethnographic study of their rural consumers, Christopher Pinney traces the intimate connections between the production and consumption of these images and the struggle against colonial rule. The detailed output of individual presses and artists is set against the intensification of the nationalist struggle, the constraints imposed by colonial state censorship, and fifty years of Indian independence. The reader is introduced to artists who trained within colonial art schools, others whose skills reflect their membership of traditional painting castes, and yet others who are self-taught former sign painters.
Photos of the Gods is the first comprehensive history of India’s popular visual culture. Combining anthropology, political and cultural history, and the study of aesthetic systems, and using many intriguing and unfamiliar images, the book shows that the current predicament of India cannot be understood without taking into account this complex, fascinating, and until now virtually unseen, visual history.
1. Indian Images Under the Shadow of Colonialism
2. Staging Hinduism: Lithographs and Popular Theatre in Calcutta, 1870-1885
3. Peshwas, Parrots and Bombs: Lithographs and Politics in Western India, 1870-1885
4. Lithographs and the Camera in Bombay and Delhi, 1890-1925
5. Pastoral Realism: The Nathdvara Devotional Aesthetic, 1925-1935
6. The Politics of Popular Images: From Cow Protection to M. K. Gandhi, 1890-1950
7. Half-Seen in Advance: Picture Production in Independent India, 1950-2000
8. What Pictures Want Now: Rural Consumers of Images, 1980-2000
Epilogue: The Recursive Archive
A Note on Transliteration
List of Illustrations
"Pinney's book is a fascinating read, with a narrative that is intersperesed with its own 'xeno-real' moments... Photos of the Gods is a book that must not be ignored."