1st Edition

British Indian Picture Postcards in Bengaluru Ephemeral Entanglements

By Emily Stevenson Copyright 2024
    178 Pages 14 Color & 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    178 Pages 14 Color & 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Combining ethnographic and archival research, this book examines the lives of colonial-period postcards and reveals how they become objects of contemporary historical imagination in India.

    Picture postcards were circulated around the world in their billions in the early twentieth century and remained, until the advent of social media, unmatched as the primary means of sharing images alongside personal messages. This book, based on original research in Bengaluru, shows that their lives stretch from their initial production and consumption in the early 1900s into the present where they act as visual and material mediators in postcolonial productions of history, locality, and heritage against a backdrop of intense urban change.

    The book will be of interest to photographic historians, visual anthropologists, and art historians.

    Introduction: Ephemeral Entanglement  Following the Ramchand Box, Part 1  1. Behind the Lens: Producing Picture Postcards  Following the Ramchand Box, Part 2  2. Picture Postcard Bengaluru  Following the Ramchand Box, Part 3  3. “Juggling” with the Past and Present: Picture Postcard Collections as Mnemonic Things  Following the Ramchand Box, Part 4  4. Ephemeral Frictions: Picture Postcards and Heritage in “India’s Silicon Valley”  Conclusion: The Thing About Picture Postcards in the “City Without a Past”


    Emily Stevenson is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.

    "Written in a clear and compelling style, this unique book tracks the material cultures and social lives of postcards across transnational circuits of production and consumption. Drawing on ethnographic research in Bangalore, Stevenson challenges their understanding as nostalgic objects of colonial longing and representation alone. Instead, she offers an original and unconventional approach by showing the complex entanglements between local Indian photographers, Europeans, and colonial studios." 

    --Hemangini Gupta, University of Edinburgh and Founder-Member of the Bangalore Research Network

    "This is an important book that reminds me to look more closely at colonial images, to acknowledge my own privileged vantage point, and to look at those images differently. It will be essential reading for all those interested in South Asian visual history and the postcolonial imagination."

    --Christopher Wright, Goldsmiths

    "This rare, interdisciplinary enquiry into the social lives of British Indian postcards in Bangalore/Bengaluru – as products of transcultural practice emerging from Indian cities,  their imbrications with the consumption of (past and present) urban space, and their entanglements with the imaginations of 'heritage' and futures in the present – adds an unexplored dimension to the thriving field of 'Bangalore Studies.'" 

    --Smriti Srinivas, University of California, Davis