Organized Panel Session
This paper will look into the critical role of mainstream print media in shaping twentieth-century urban visuality in a pre-television India by analyzing World War II photographs from two English language print publications – the Bombay based exclusive news magazine Illustrated Weekly of India and the Calcutta based daily Amrita Bazaar Patrika. The World War II was instrumental in changing the layout of newspapers, as well in introducing the genre of photo-story in India. Indeed Amrita Bazaar initiated the front page lead photograph and a last page dedicated to war photographs, while both the Weekly and the Amrita Bazaar fostered the “photo-story” during the War; war photographs were essential as visual verification of written news. The credibility and the power of photographs were founded on their truth claim and supposed neutrality that was reinforced by the seeming objectivity of photomechanical reproduction. Through close readings of selected photographs from these two publications along with advertisements of photographic equipment, the paper will enquire the myriad ways in which representations of the War conditioned the late-colonial perceptions of reality. In the process, I will analyze the different ways in which titles and captions shaped the meaning/s of war photographs. Further, these meanings were contingent on the intermediality between mass-printed war photographs and other media that shaped the mid-twentieth century Indian visual public sphere. Finally, by focusing on the British imperial and transcultural networks that shaped mass-circulated photographs in Asia, I will locate my archive within a global history of mass circulated photographs of conflicts.
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