Published today

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


Recently published journal paper

“The cracks of post-liberalized India”: Storying the “New Society” through Banerjee’s The Harappa Files (2011)

This article explores Sarnath Banerjee’s graphic novel The Harappa Files (2011) as a cultural and literary product of the post-millennial period in India, positing the Indian graphic novel as a new form of cultural and visual consumption. The article examines how Banerjee’s graphic novel looks to story the “new society” through the device of recollection and how, in doing so, it usurps traditional modes of representations of India by depicting India at certain points in a critical and unfavourable light. Overall, the article suggests that the Indian graphic novel is a site where old and new modes of visuality confer and where India is represented anew, often in challenging and inauspicious ways. The graphic novel lends itself to such contestation, since its literary form (often considered “marginal” both within and outside India) offers a creative space for challenging representations.




Genre Fiction of New India – published this month

August 2016

Genre Fiction of New India: post-millennial receptions to ‘weird’ narratives out this month.

This book investigates fiction in English, written within, and published from India since 2000 in the genre of mythology-inspired fiction in doing so it introduces the term ‘Bharati Fantasy’.

This volume is anchored in notions of the ‘weird’ and thus some time is spent understanding this term linguistically, historically (‘wyrd’) as well as philosophically and most significantly socio-culturally because ‘reception’ is a key theme to this book’s thesis.

The book studies the interface of science, Hinduism and itihasa within mythology-inspired fiction in English from India and these are specifically examined through the lens of two overarching interests: reader reception and the genre of weird fiction. The book considers Indian and non-Indian receptions to the body of mythology-inspired fiction, highlighting how English fiction from India has moved away from being identified as the traditional Indian postcolonial text. Furthermore, the book reveals broader findings in relation to identity and Indianness and India’s post-millennial society’s interest in portraying and projecting ideas of India through its ancient cultures, epic narratives and cultural (Hindu) figures.