SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

Postcards as Urban History of India: visual sources for colonial history

Dr Prashant Kidambi (University of Leicester)

Date: 13 September 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 13 September 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: S209

Type of Event: Round Table

In conjunction with the exhibition, “From Madras to Bangalore” on British Indian picture postcards to be held at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, we invite colleagues and postgraduate students working on issues of colonial history, decolonisation, visual media and public engagement to a roundtable discussion.

Dr Prashant Kidambi will lead the roundtable in discussing the exhibition, which will be followed by an open discussion on how visual sources can be effectively utilised as a tool for colonial history.

The exhibition takes as its premise the material flow of objects, images and ideas that was central to the colonial encounter and the construction of colonial imaginaries. As a medium of staggering popularity in the early 20th century, British Indian picture postcards are arguably exemplary of this. Through the exhibition, we examine picture postcard representations of British Indian cities, specifically Madras and Bangalore, as spaces where the colonial encounter was most visibly played out.  

  • To what extent did picture postcards of British Indian cities play a role in the construction and dissemination of ideas of colonial modernity, hierarchised progress and the ‘civilising’ mission?
  • What can we learn from postcards as a tool of colonial urban history?  
  • How do colonial postcards help us decolonise urban histories?
  • What can visual sources reveal as social and urban history that is distinct from conventional archival texts?
  • How can the use of visual sources help us think about urban history in interdisciplinary ways?  

Exhibition runs at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, from 12th July to 23rd September 2018

There will be a walk through and introduction by the curators of the exhibit preceding the Roundtable.  If interested meet in the Brunei Gallery at 4pm on 13 September 2018.

Organiser: Supported by Economic and Social Research Council

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