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Visuality and Identity in Post-millennial Indian Graphic Narratives (Palgrave)

Visuality and Identity in Post-millennial Indian Graphic Narratives sets out to investigate the intersection of Indian society, the encoding of postmillennial modernity and ‘ways of seeing’ through the medium of Indian graphic narratives. This research is set against a twenty-first-century global backdrop and call to see and decode challenging, unfavourable and, sadly, all too often, disturbing images. If seeing in Indian cultures is a mode of knowing (following Bhatti and Pinney 2011), then what might we decode and know from the Indian graphic narratives examined in this book? As Chap. 2 posits, Indian graphic narratives invite the reader-gazer to see the inauspicious, and the analyses in Chaps. 3 and 4 offer an insight into what we might consider inauspicious in terms of both form and content. Since we might argue that the idea of unfavourable or challenging content is more readily recognisable than that of form, I have been particularly interested in thinking through the idea of form as inauspicious given that Indian visual cultures—Hindu and otherwise—enjoy established cultures of decoding auspicious images through religious, spiritual and secular iconography within the everyday spaces of public culture. Such images have consistently enjoyed positive, favourable, auspicious representation, affirming their status and the invitation to see them in a proper light through the use of light colourways, clear line drawing and careful composition, as examples. In short, I claim that the ‘seeing’ of post-millennial Indian graphic narratives revolves around a visuality of the inauspicious, complemented by narratives of the same: the ‘rewriting’ of history, social ills (such as rape), religious intolerance, celebrity culture, caste, ‘modern’ society are some examples. I posit that this kind of ‘seeing’ usurps traditional modes of visuality especially with regard to the Amar Chitra Katha series of comic books and, moreover, that it is harnessed in order to critique and disturb ideas of Indianness in the post-millennial moment.
E. Dawson Varughese


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