Image(s) of India

Appel à communication pour le workshop international de l’AJEI “Image(s) of India” qui aura lieu à New Delhi, Inde, les 19, 20 et 21 mars 2018.

The “Association des Jeunes Etudes Indiennes” (AJEI) is a student organization whose members are young researchers coming from various disciplines of the Humanities and Social Sciences (from master’s degree to postdoctoral level) whose area of research is South Asia. Since 1998 the AJEI has been organizing a research seminar in France and a French-Indian workshops yearly in India with the support of international and local partners. One of our goals is also to interact informally, and build relationships, with a view to creating a strong international network of researchers. Drawing from the transversal thematic of Images, this year we propose a three-day workshop with an opening lecture, daily presentations discussed by senior researchers, methodological workshops, and a concluding session. Every year, a research seminar in France and a workshop in India bring
students and scholars together in order to discuss the topics and papers presented.

What do we picture when we evoke India? For its 20th annual Workshop, AJEI invites young researchers to share their knowledge and to propose a critical approach of the concept of ‘Images’ in the subcontinent: To what extent do images reflect the many realities and representations of India and how does the Indian imagery affect scholarly, artistic and touristic as well as political perceptions, from a western and an Indian point of view? The Workshop is aimed to develop a cross-disciplinary dialogue in social sciences for a better understanding of the multiple roles that Images have been playing from antiquity to nowadays in the perceptions and the foundations of culture and identities in Indian society. The aim is also to open some reflexive discussions on the use and construction of images.

In the contemporary context, TV, Internet, advertising and personal photos are some of the widespread imagery vehicles of social meaning. Images play a key part in our everyday lives, may they be fixed or animated; we use them as support of representation with a view to build a comprehensive and inclusive understanding of the world. What do pictures show us? How to understand/interpret them? How connected/distant are they to/from reality? How do social groups use images to legitimate their status? Images, as subject and objects of research are also used by Indian and Westerner socials scientist to illustrate, transmit or testimony the reality they observe on their research. The position of the Indian and Westerner researcher and the dissemination of research has to be examined through reflexive and projective speeches or pictures in a globalized society and its realities. (S.Tawa Lama-Rewal (2016), C.Lefèvre, I.Županov (2012), C.Markovits (2013)).

Bearing from the Humanities and Social Sciences, the variety of status, uses, production, analysis and processing of images (and conversely, the reporting research through images) in all their forms (archives, photographic documents, cartography…(Mead, Bateson(1942), Piette (1992), Conord
(2001,2002)) will be thoroughly considered, through an interdisciplinary approach, including a multi-level scale of space and time (M.Boivin (2015), C.Guenzi (2013), P-Y.Trouillet (2013)).

When we think about the early forms of Images depicting South Asia, the visual representations of the great old subcontinent emerge telling us about the conquest and exchange system with the Sumer Empire, the great architecture from the Indus civilisation as shown in the Photographs from Sir John Marshall’s classic book Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilisation (1931) covering the very first excavations in Harappa, the ancient Indus site, and not forgetting the painting and carving from ancient temples and caves that we still admire today.

India and its history inspired and still inspire the Orientalism of the 19th and 20th centuries. Literature (from Alphonse De Lamartine (1856) , Rudyard Kipling (1894) to Shashi Tharoor (2001, 2007), Manil Suri (2001, 2008, 2013), Abha Dawesar (2009), Kavita Daswani (2003)), Art (Yashodhara Dalmia (2010), Monicha Ahmed (2009)) and philosophy (Max Weber (1916), Karl Marx (1853), Vincent Descombes (2013), Amartya Sen (2005)) testify how deep was and still is the quest for connections between the two continents of European linguists, politicians and travelers.

Nowadays, India remains one of the favorite destinations for travelers and mass tourism. All are being attracted by the ‘Incredible India’ portrait depicted by the numerous campaign by the Indian Tourist Office, which highlight natural landscapes, wildlife, or the sacred sites of the country art of living. Moreover when we consider the place of images in the Indian subcontinent we cannot avoid dealing with Bollywood, the biggest cinema industry in the world. For some researchers, the images reflected in Bollywood movies appear to be a better guide to the understanding of the realities of modern India and thus should be taken as objects of study per se (Dwyer, 2014).

The power of images, spread over the country through mass production, led historians to trace the intimate connections between the production and consumption of these images and the struggle against colonial rule (Piney, 2004). In postcolonial struggle, images and more particularly the sanctification of political leaders (such as the edification of statue) was part of Dalit political movements as shown by Jaoul (2010) regarding Ambedkar in Uttar Pradesh. The use of popular images which in this case formed a sort of local bricolage bearing from ancient attributes of power, was somehow reverse to what the current Prime Minister Modi did in his 2014’s campaign. Using modern technologies, such as holograms and spectacular images effects allowed Modi to be present at dozens of rallies at the same time. The technology and position of images can be questioned as a medium and an element of construction in the political and identitary claims.

The use of “India Shining” images, the marketing slogan referring to the overall feeling of economic optimism in India in 2004, popularised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the 2004 Indian general elections, helped popularize the reforms at an unprecedented mass scale that until then had largely been limited to elite policy debates and reform packages. (Ravinder Kaur, 2016) We can also analyze it as a form of representation of way of life and consumption of the indian middle class society.

We invite young researchers to submit to one of the following panels in relations to Images:
a. Climate change representations: between local perceptions and science-based knowledge
(G.Ramachandra (1997), M.Gadgil (1995), A.Baviskar (2007), Vandana shiva (2013), Satish Kumar(2013)).

b. Images and representations of the body in India: from Ayurveda to biomedicine
(D.Wujastyk (2008), Patwardhan, Bhushan (2014), N. Islam (2011)).

c. Reversed anthropology versus reflexive anthropology: the young researcher’s speech on western culture and/or on their own society (

d. Pictorial/iconographic representations: testimony of an era or the expression of the artist point of view? (E.Francis (2015)).

e. Images of archives and today picture: a same place through ages? (Z.Headley (2012)).

f. Between reality and fantasy: the making of images (in filmographies (Ranjan Bandyopadhyay (2008)), impact of the tourism (Nitin Mittal, G Anjaneyaswamy (2013)), what it shown in written and televisual press or in social networks).

g. The image reproduction rights/copyrights? : Ethical question in SHS research (R.Lardinois ,V.Illavarasam (2014), J.Naudet, C-L.Dubost (2016), J.Okely (2012)).

These descriptions of the axis of research are only indicative and paper proposals can fit into one or more axis or pertain more generally to the theme of the workshop.

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OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Cecile Laly (11 janvier 2018). Image(s) of India. Carnet du CREOPS. Consulté le 22 juillet 2024 à l’adresse

Cecile Laly

CREOPS (Université Paris-Sorbonne), International Research Center for Japanese Studies

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