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Research Seminar: Niharika Dinkar – Phantasmagoria of Elephanta

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University of West London

Saint Mary's Road

London

W5 5RF

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Dr. Niharika Dinkar (Boise State University)
The phantasmagoria of Elephanta: Haunted stories and optical technologies

The caves at Elephanta in western India haunted the imagination of writers, artists and poets through the long nineteenth century to emerge as paradigmatic examples of Oriental darkness and its obdurate resistance to transparent vision. This talk examines satirical prints by Thomas Rowlandson published in The Grand Master, or Adventures of Qui Hi? in Hindostan (1816) that feature a range of optical devices including the magic lantern and the kaleidoscope within the caves to underline its phantasmagorical character. Rowlandson presents the optical devices as magical technologies consonant with practices of the occult associated with Hindu ritual, producing a wondrous site of oracles and bloody rituals that catered to new appetites for visual sensation. The caves exposed unexpected alliances between the occult and visual technologies, giving material form to notions of Oriental darkness to emerge as a site within which experiments to see were conducted.



About the speaker


Niharika Dinkar teaches art history at Boise State University. She worked as a photojournalist in New Delhi before studying at the National Museum (New Delhi) and completed her PhD from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is interested in the interface between art and technology in nineteenth century South Asia. Her forthcoming monograph, Empires of Light: Vision, Visibility and Power in Colonial India (University of Manchester Press, 2019) examines the centrality of light in imperial visual and material culture to consider its place in modern life and art historical studies.



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This research seminar is part of a series organised by Thinking the Image and the London School of Film, Media and Design, UWL. It is convened by researchers and students of media, photography, film, digital imaging and literature. All welcome!

The seminar will take place at University of West London's St Mary's Road campus. To let us know you're coming and for details of the room, please email Theresa at: JunkoTheresa.Mikuriya@uwl.ac.uk

The university building is fully wheelchair accessible with disabled toilets available on each floor.



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University of West London

Saint Mary's Road

London

W5 5RF

United Kingdom

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