SOAS University of London

From Madras to Bangalore: Picture Postcards as Urban History of Colonial India

The Mylapore Temple, Madras

Date: 12 July 2018Time: 10:30 AM

Finishes: 23 September 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Exhibition Rooms

Type of Event: Exhibition

This exhibition covers a selection of picture postcards from the Indian cities of Chennai and Bengaluru between 1900 and the 1930s; then known as Madras and Bangalore. They were the two most important colonial cities in British south India.  By pairing these together, this exhibition tells a tale of how these two cities, although separated by 215 miles, were linked through a set of common representational and material practices.  FROM MADRAS TO BANGALORE explores how postcard practices imagined, figured and performed a colonial encounter by depicting cities’ monuments, street, people and places.

In the early decades of the 20th century, postcards were at the height of their popularity and were an innovative and affordable form of communicating. It has been estimated that in Britain aloneapproximately six billion postcards passed through the British postal system between 1902 and 1910.

The postcards featured in this exhibition offera pictorial vocabulary that translates the urban environment into "sights" that can be isolated and recorded, collected and organized into scrapbooks. 

These postcards are not so much ‘a window into the past’, but a set of discursive coordinates that articulated the social and cultural geography of the city and its inhabitants, for a global and predominantly European audience.

Follow the exhibition on Instagram: soaspostcard

Sample Images