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Afterimage of EmpirePhotography in Nineteenth-Century India$
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Zahid R. Chaudhary

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677481

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677481.001.0001

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Anaesthesis and Violence

Anaesthesis and Violence

A Colonial History of Shock

(p.72) (p.73) Two Anaesthesis and Violence
Afterimage of Empire

Zahid R. Chaudhary

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter analyzes documentary photography in the wake of the Sepoy Revolt of 1857 through a reading of the work of commercial photographer Felice Beato. Beato produced a series of photographs documenting the major sites of the Sepoy Revolt, sometimes exhuming corpses of the native dead in order to pose them among architectural ruins, all for the sake of presenting the immediacy of battle. Beato’s projects in India seek, belatedly, to recapture time, even if that means restaging it. Such a project is congruent with the aims of much anthropological photography in India, which also strives to capture forms of life that colonialism/modernization gradually makes extinct. Both projects arise out of the epistemic and literal violence that lie at the heart of colonialism and, in a certain sense, are direct and indirect engagements with such violence. The chapter explores the implications of modernity’s bodily shock effects in the colonial arena.

Keywords:   documentary photography, Sepoy Revolt, Felice Beato, anthropological photography, colonialism, violence

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