The panel will bring together a set of innovative papers that will try to unpack visual politics through photography, museum displays, new media technologies and digital dissemination in the context of Northeast India in the 19th and 20th centuries
Much of the studies on Northeast India, few and far-between as they may be, are written textual narratives based on different forms of colonial records. An aspect that has not drawn as much interest is the representation of the Northeast visually. Visual representation came through photographs, museum displays of native artefacts and other objects of material culture. While the materiality of these objects was important to feed the people back home of the various 'races' they encountered and subjugated, such objects also became an important medium through which cultural difference was established. Visuals, unlike the written text, present a far more communicative text to readers and observers. In the North East visuals became part of colonial ethnographic tradition since the 1870s as topographic surveys become intense to establish control over the frontier. The panel aims to look at various forms of representation and the tropes of visuality through which colonialism was experienced in the region and how colonial coercion was exercised based on racial segregation and ethnic formation of the 'tribe' and 'non-tribe'. In the post independence period these have become established legal categories and have manifested ethnic difference and the construction of the 'other'- hill people as communities without history vis-à-vis the plains. Thus visual tropes have played a critical role in colonial and post independence knowledge production in the region that remains understudied from cross-disciplinary perspectives. The panel will bring together a set of innovative papers that will try to unpack visual politics through photography, museum displays, new media technologies and digital dissemination.