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Vision, visibility and power in colonial India
Author: Niharika Dinkar

Beyond its simple valorisation as a symbol of knowledge and progress in post-Enlightenment narratives, light was central to the visual politics and imaginative geographies of empire. Empires of Light describes how imperial designations of ‘cities of light’ and ‘hearts of darkness’ were consonant with the dynamic material culture of light in the nineteenth-century industrialisation of light (in homes, streets, theatres, etc.) and its instrumentalisation through industries of representation. Empires of Light studies the material effects of light as power through the drama of imperial vision and its engagement with colonial India. It evaluates responses by the celebrated Indian painter Ravi Varma (1848–1906) to claim the centrality of light in imperial technologies of vision, not merely as an ideological effect but as a material presence that produces spaces and inscribes bodies.

Structure, function and meaning

The British Empire contributed greatly to the globalising of western buildings, towns and cities across the world. The requirements of security necessitated the construction of forts and barracks everywhere, while the need for mobility and ceremonial led to the use of large numbers of tents. As towns and cities developed, building types required for imperial rule, the operations of colonial economies and the comfort and cultural edification of Europeans appeared everywhere. These included government houses, town halls, courthouses, assembly and parliament buildings, company headquarters, customs houses and hotels. As the white bourgeoisie became a major global class, their representative buildings, such as clubs, libraries, museums, theatres, religious institutions, mission stations and schools, also spread worldwide. Some of these were designed for the dissemination of European culture to indigenous peoples, as well as the proselytisation of Christianity. Imperial rulers, their officials and troops additionally required particular settlements for leisure, recreation and the restoration of health, and these included hill stations in many colonies. The new technologies of the age, such as the telegraph and railways, also generated significant structures, widely dispersed. In addition to the great public and civic buildings, residential accommodation was created for Europeans, servants and workers. The result was a striking built environment which offers many insights into the nature, character and social and economic development of imperial rule, not least in the patterns of racial and class inclusion and exclusion which such buildings represented. It is an environment which remains key to the understanding of the modern world, and one which has survived, often through the modern fascination with ‘heritage’ as well as through its incorporation into new postcolonial arrangements.

Jonathon Shears

3 •• Nation, empire and ethnicity The Great Exhibition, as is often the case with events of national significance, offered Britain an opportunity to reflect on her position in a global context. For Auerbach and Hoffenberg it ‘put the nation on display and served as a forum for discussions of Britishness’ (2008: p. x); it also afforded a chance to rethink shared cultural and moral values and the national character, relationships with other nations, the future of the empire and the colonies, and ‘The images that the English constructed of themselves’ (Daly, 2011

in The Great Exhibition, 1851
Italian and American art in transnational perspective, 1840–1970

"Republics and empires showcases transnational perspectives that address the significance of Italy for American art and visual culture while outlining the impact of the United States on Italian art and popular culture. Covering the period from the Risorgimento to the Cold War, this collection of chapters illuminates the complexity of the visual discourses that bound two relatively new nations together. It also pays substantial attention to literary and critical texts that addressed the evolving cultural relationship between Italy and the United States.

Taking into account the significant historical events that linked Italy and the United States, Part I: ‘Hybrid Republicanisms’ and Part II: ‘The Courses of Empire’ highlight important cross-cultural issues. The first section concentrates on the shared notions of republicanism and tyranny that animated American and Italian politics in the long nineteenth century. Rather imperfectly, both nations attempted to bind a community of diverse peoples together on the common values of liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness. The second exposes how the liberal tendencies of nationalism gave way to imperial ambition, and how this transition was given visual and cultural form in Italian and American high art and popular culture.

The anthology serves as a valuable introduction to American-Italian cultural relations. Its fourteen historicised case studies by Italian and American scholars trace how gender, race, ethnicity, and class interests intersect with the powerful political and cultural dynamics of both nations.

Kent Fedorowich

For many in the British Empire, the long struggle in Europe between 1914 and 1919 demonstrated the importance of imperial co-operation, unity and self-sufficiency, goals which were increasingly emphasised as the war intensified. The war presented the opportunity for governments to shed older, established conventions, proceed along new paths and experiment with fresh ideas

in Unfit for heroes
Susie Protschky

she had received from the people of the Netherlands East Indies: a costly bracelet made from South African diamonds set in the pattern of a crown flanked by two garuda birds. 6 Perhaps the bracelet and the jaunty young queen reminded Van Baal of better times. For in 1955 Dutch New Guinea was the last remaining outpost of the Netherlands’ former empire in Asia, which had reached its modern zenith during Wilhelmina's reign, but was formally dissolved within a year of her heir

in Photographic subjects
Caitlin Meehye Beach

’s sculpture coincided with – and were arguably unsettled by – new patterns of global commerce and imperial exploitation that unfolded in and around the Mediterranean during the late nineteenth century. In parsing the ways in which a sculpture about Emancipation intersected histories of empire on the Italian peninsula while refracting the course of its imperialist realities elsewhere

in Republics and empires
Jane Chin Davidson

The dialectical image of empire The dialectical image of empire Dialectic of the newest and oldest   Fashion is a canon for this dialectic also   The oldest as newest: the daily news The newest as oldest: the Empire1 The global artfair is considered the new entity of the globalized art institution – biennials and triennials have proliferated across the globe since the 1990s, appearing in a variety of cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou in China; and in cities from diverse regions including Istanbul, Tanzania, Brisbane, Dakar, Sao Paolo, and Kwangju, to

in Staging art and Chineseness
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library