Extended Academy: Art and Aesthetic Practices in India and the World

as part of Hannah Baader’s Research Group Transregional Art Histories. Actors, Spaces, Ecologies from the 13th Century to the Present
in cooperation with Nachiket Chanchani (University of Michigan)

Studying the visual and material culture of the Indian subcontinent constitutes a gateway toward querrying much of the intellectual and cultural heritage of the globe, from antiquity to the present day. The assemblages of objects and images produced and used in the subcontinent represent more than the inheritance of the subcontinent. They reveal global and transcultural modes of production, infrastructures, transfers of ideas as well as transformations of objects and aesthetic practices.

The Working Group Extended Academy: Art Histories, India and the World brings together approaches from transcultural art history, history of religion, anthropology, visual culture studies and sociology. Starting with the examination of body and death in early Buddism, Mushidabad paintings from the 18th century, the visual culture of the Indian royal house of Awadh, archive photographs of Bhojpuri migrant women, and contemporary approaches of anthropology in modern India, the topics of the participants will open up a new perspective on the transcultural and transregional entanglements of aesthetic and social practices of the Indian subcontinent in exchange with the world.

Participants of the Working Group Extended Academy: Art Histories, India and the World:

Mr. Sandipan Mitra  (PhD student in Sociology, Sociology Department, Presidency University, Kolkata)

Anthropology and Governance in Modern India
Mitra’s doctoral research explores the connections between anthropology and governance in India by focusing on the intersections of anthropological imagination, pedagogic practices and governmental techniques. It draws upon metropolitan debates across anthropology, political economy and economics, colonial and post-colonial governmental practices, works of Indian and Western anthropologists, and the politics of empire and nation-states in non-Western countries.

Ms. Mrinalini Sil  PhD student of Visual Arts, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Arts in the Age of Transition: Power, Politics and Culture in Murshidabad Paintings from Early Modern Bengal
By bringing to the fore a huge corpus of paintings and illustrated manuscripts (most of which remains unpublished) from Murshidabad (during the 18th and early 19th century) Sil’s thesis intends to reflect on notions of patronage of art, artist-patron relations, collection and dispersal of artworks that would ultimately attempt to destabilize the idea of an homogenous Murshidabad ‘school’ of painting as proposed by previous academic works. Further, her thesis intends to nuance aspects of the political visual culture of the Nizamat court of Bengal, the collecting and art commissioning practices of the officers of the various East India Companies (English and French) and also that of the local power magnates like that of the Jain mercantile communities to ultimately understand artistic production in early modern Murshidabad as a protean, cosmopolitan and multidimensional phenomena.

Ms. Parul Singh  PhD student of Visual Arts, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Spectacle, Kingship, Performance, and Power: Visual Culture During the Reign of Wajid Ali Shah (1847-1856)­
Singh’s research focuses on Wajid Ali Shah, the last king of Awadh, and his use of culture as a means of fashioning and negotiating his legitimacy and privilege as king at a time when his political authority was being diminished and encroached by the East India Company.

Apart from focusing on an illustrated Manuscript, the Ishqnama an autobiographical account of Wajid Ali Shah’s love life, Singh’s has used the visual texts such as illustrations, prints, photographs and cartoons, to situate and reconstruct the cultural matrix of the time- the various melas, rahas, processions, and performances etc. as reflected in visual imagery from the period. Through these, she has explored the court’s keen investment in the production of visual spectacle. In conjunction with the visual material, the vast contemporary accounts of the period, of both the British and the Indians, give us an insight not only of the divergent ways of seeing but also of their prejudices, their often conflicting notions of culture and civilization, and contestations of power using ‘culture’ as a tool.

Ms. Joeeta Pal  PhD student of History, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

The Body in Death in Early Buddhism (c 4th century BCE - 4th century CE)
Pal’s research aims at creating a framework for studying varied responses to death in early Buddhism, using the body as the chief variable for analysis. It uses a range of sources including texts and the remains of monuments with sculptural depictions and inscriptions to understand the multivalent traditions that engaged with Buddhism.

Ms. Sarojini Lewis
PhD student, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Visuals of Bhojpuri Female Migrants, Situating the archive through a Contemporary Lense
Lewis’ project looks at several archival photography of Bhojpuri female migrants from collections such as The Herrnhut Collection, Tropenmuseum, Rijksmuseum and connects it's historical and social narrative with the artworks made by contemporary artists from India and the Indian Diaspora part of the Indentured Labour migration in the 19th and 20th century.

Ms. Nimra Rizvi  PhD student, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Articulating Power and Culture through Objects of Value:
Awadh and the World, c.1740-1857
This thesis focuses on the production and circulation of manuscripts, art and objects, and the embodiment of ideas therein, in Awadh over the 18th and 19th centuries. I examine the economies that initiated and sustained production, circulation and replication. Broadly, this thesis seeks to add depth to the historiographies of object circulation and material culture in early modern South Asian history, through the case of Awadh.

Ms. Priyani Roychoudhury  PhD student, Institut für Kunst-und Bildgeschichte, Humboldt-University, Berlin

Fashioning of a Mughal City: Fatehpur Sikri
The project takes a close look at the making of the city of Fatehpur Sikri in the context of the architectural and cultural environs of sixteenth century India. It offers an analysis of the architectural dialogues that emerged in the city; studies how these were informed by the large geophysical world which the Mughals inhabited; and addresses how the design of Fatehpur Sikri, both ordered and memorialized these emerging idioms of architecture.




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