Pinney’s essay explores, in the context of both colonized and contemporary India, Ariella Azoulay’s argument about the prophetic nature of photographic citizenship. The use of photographs in a number of key Indian National Congress reports reveals the destabilizing potential of the camera. This photographic counter-narrative presents a challenge to certain Althusserian and Foucauldian accounts for which the state is ultimately the arbiter of “evidence.” As Pinney shows, political claims could be advanced in the space of photography that were disallowed in everyday life. This possibility was predicated on smaller and faster apparatuses, that is, a changing technics of media. However, in contemporary India an increasingly miniaturized technics is provoking widespread anxieties about the public visibility of what was formerly private and intimate. The changing form of photographic technics thus drives a social narrative that transforms the camera as a utopian tool of liberation into a dystopian means of transgression.
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Christopher Pinney; Civil Contract of Photography in India. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 May 2015; 35 (1): 21–34. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-2876068
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