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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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Famine and the Reproduction of Affect

Famine and the Reproduction of Affect

Pleas for Sympathy

(p.152) (p.153) Four Famine and the Reproduction of Affect
Afterimage of Empire

Zahid R. Chaudhary

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter focuses on photography in the context of the multiple famines across the Indian subcontinent in the late nineteenth century. It examines how sympathy as an affect enters the domain of technological reproducibility and the slippery nature of the photographic medium with respect to sympathetic feeling, drawing upon Adam Smith’s eighteenth-century notion of sympathy in The Theory of Moral Sentiments through the nineteenth-century circulation of W. W. Hooper’s famous photographs from the Madras famine of 1876–79 in conjunction with the various pleas for sympathy in the popular British and Indian press. The sentiments that images of social suffering arouse, if understood through Smith’s formulation of sympathy, reveal not only the deeper representational conundrums that all projects of “awareness raising” face with respect to their subjects but also the unpredictable nature of photography’s own sympathetic mimesis.

Keywords:   photography, famines, India, Adam Smith, sympathy, W. W, Hooper, social suffering, mimesis

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