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Stevenson, Emily Rose (2018) Picture Postcard Bengaluru: The Visual and Material Past in India’s Silicon Valley. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis analyses the social life of British Indian picture postcards of Bengaluru from their initial production in the early 20th century into the postcolonial present. The research is based upon a mixed methodological approach of participant observation, and archival and digital research conducted over the course of 15 months in Bengaluru. Whilst the current body of literature on colonial picture postcards has been conducted solely from a historical perspective, my research shows that their biographies continue into the present as they act as material mediators in postcolonial experiences of history, locality, heritage and urban renewal. Discussions of Bengaluru, both in popular and academic discourse, often focus on its rise into the ‘IT capital of India’. In doing so, the identities and histories of the city that stretch back beyond the 1990s liberalisation of the Indian economy are often obscured. Within this context, this thesis proposes that postcolonial Bengalureans reflexively engage with the ephemeral debris of colonialism as an accessible archive of historical documents as they contend the forces of rapid urban development that are experienced as de-historicising the city. Situated between visual and historical anthropology, the project focuses on the multiple engagements of picture postcards as they are brought into new relationships, forms and contexts in their journey through time and space. Ultimately, I propose that acts of collecting, remediating and displaying picture postcards of Bengaluru are key referents that help citizens understand the city’s transformations and, at times, become enmeshed in wider discourses of its future.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Stephen Hughes
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2020 13:33

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