After Images: Visual Cultures and Subaltern Pasts

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In February 1856, the Illustrated London News published a wood-cut print of Sido Murmu, as a captured leader of an anti-colonial rebellion in India led by indigenous Santal headmen. Known as the Hul, this movement has been re-visited by exponents of subaltern historiography in an effort to understand insurgent consciousness, and the parameters of ‘minority’ history. Working across these parameters, this paper employs a visual and historical ethnographic methodology, in order to question whether the interplay between colonial-era and post-independence representations of the Hul may inform a new understanding both of British scopic regimes and of Santal (tribal) and Adivasi (Indigenous) assertion in India. The concept of ‘after-image’ is used metaphorically, to trace how a seemingly imperialist portrait of Sido Murmu has assumed multiple afterlives. I question how these afterlives intersect with the intangible heritage of the Hul especially in the new state of Jharkhand (eastern-central India), to generate an approach to heterotopian encounters that has applicability in both visual studies and subaltern studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-386
Number of pages20
JournalVisual Culture in Britain
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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