Accepted paper:

Narrating Familiarity: Frederick Growse and the Architectural Experience of Colonial Bulandshahr: 1878-1886.


Venugopal Maddipati (CSDS)

Paper short abstract:

I consider how F.S. Growse, the collector of Bulandshahr (1878-1884), recounted the depth of his experiences by emphasizing his knowledge of the architectural particulars of a town square. I compare Growse's texts with the accompanying photographs, and explore an aesthetics of translation.

Paper long abstract:

For district collectors in British colonial India in the latter part of the nineteenth century, experience, in so far as the word denoted the knowledge one gains of a place over time, was hard to come by. After all, the short duration of the collectors' administerial tenures, did not permit them to invest in acquiring knowledge about the district. The experience necessary to govern, according to the collector of Bulandshahr, Frederick Salmon Growse, could scarcely be gained when the administrator was expected to "forgo all personal predilections and local attachments… so that he may be moved at a moment's notice from one environment to another." In my paper, I will consider how Growse sought to promote, against the grain of his own transfer from Bulandshahr in 1884, the depth of his experiences in that district. In his memoir, Growse showcased his own familiarity with Bulandshahr by recounting his attempts at architecturally "improving" a town square within it. More significantly, Growse provided photographs of that town square in his memoir, so as to enhance his own textual description of his familiarity with Bulandshahr. How, then, did photographs come to serve as adequate representations of textual descriptions in the memoir? Moreover, how can a text represent familiarity? In my paper I explore Growse's aesthetics of translation, in which the untranslatable, that is, familiarity, is rendered commensurable with textual representations and images. Indeed Growse's familiarity with Bulandshahr, as I will suggest, only exists in translation.

panel P03
Exploring aesthetic experiences and practices