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Rethinking Representation: Caste, Class, Gender & Race in Art

Rethinking Representation: Caste, Class, Gender & Race in Art

- Dr Rakhee Balaram

The status of visual representation begins to be challenged when the agency of representation is invoked. Once representation loses its neutrality, the focus shifts to the conditions of its production which is no longer seen merely as a visual transaction between the artist and the world. It brings to the foreground the asymmetry of power relationship between the subject and object of representation. Representation is more seen as a dialectics between presence and absence, visibility and blindness. This course challenges the elitism of conventional art history by foregrounding the political and the social dimension of representation from critical historiography of colonial art history, to critiquing hierarchy of the desi and margi, to engaging with classical Sanskrit aesthetics, regional and non-classical aesthetics and art practices, and interrogating absences of representation along caste, class and gender lines. It also aspires to engage with the pre-modern past via theoretical frameworks made available by critical theory (deconstruction, post-colonial studies, gender studies etc.) so as to construct tools of inquiry from the objects of study while keeping away from nativism.



• David Summers, “Representation” in Critical Terms for Art History eds. Richard Shiff & Robert Nelson, Chicago University Press, 1992, pp.3-16.

• James H Kavanagh, “Ideology” Critical Terms for Art History eds. Richard Shiff & Robert Nelson, Chicago University Press, 1992, pp.306-320.

• Brian Wallis Ed., Art After Modernism: Rethinking Representation, New York: The New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1984.

• S K Panikkar, P D Mukherji and D Achar, Towards a New Art History: Essays on Indian Art, edited with S K Panikkar and Deeptha Achar, D K Printworld, , New Delhi, 2003.

• Vidya Dehejia ed., Representing the Body: Gender Issues in Indian Art, New Delhi, Kali for Woman, 1997.

• Homi Bhabha, “Commitment to Theory” in The Location of Culture, London: Routledge, 1994, pp.19-39.

• Gayatri Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak ?” in Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (eds) Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, London, MacMillan, 1988, pp.271-313.

• Mohanty, Chandra. “Under Western Eyes.” Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, 1991.

• Kinderly N Pinder (ed) Race-ing Art History: Critical Readings in Race in Art History (The Imaginary Orient by Linda Nochlin)

• The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art by James Clifford

• Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 199



A warm welcome to the modified and updated website of the Centre for East Asian Studies. The East Asian region has been at the forefront of several path-breaking changes since 1970s beginning with the redefining the development architecture with its State-led development model besides emerging as a major region in the global politics and a key hub of the sophisticated technologies. The Centre is one of the thirteen Centres of the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi that provides a holistic understanding of the region.

Initially, established as a Centre for Chinese and Japanese Studies, it subsequently grew to include Korean Studies as well. At present there are eight faculty members in the Centre. Several distinguished faculty who have now retired include the late Prof. Gargi Dutt, Prof. P.A.N. Murthy, Prof. G.P. Deshpande, Dr. Nranarayan Das, Prof. R.R. Krishnan and Prof. K.V. Kesavan. Besides, Dr. Madhu Bhalla served at the Centre in Chinese Studies Programme during 1994-2006. In addition, Ms. Kamlesh Jain and Dr. M. M. Kunju served the Centre as the Documentation Officers in Chinese and Japanese Studies respectively.

The academic curriculum covers both modern and contemporary facets of East Asia as each scholar specializes in an area of his/her interest in the region. The integrated course involves two semesters of classes at the M. Phil programme and a dissertation for the M. Phil and a thesis for Ph. D programme respectively. The central objective is to impart an interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of history, foreign policy, government and politics, society and culture and political economy of the respective areas. Students can explore new and emerging themes such as East Asian regionalism, the evolving East Asian Community, the rise of China, resurgence of Japan and the prospects for reunification of the Korean peninsula. Additionally, the Centre lays great emphasis on the building of language skills. The background of scholars includes mostly from the social science disciplines; History, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, International Relations and language.

Several students of the centre have been recipients of prestigious research fellowships awarded by Japan Foundation, Mombusho (Ministry of Education, Government of Japan), Saburo Okita Memorial Fellowship, Nippon Foundation, Korea Foundation, Nehru Memorial Fellowship, and Fellowship from the Chinese and Taiwanese Governments. Besides, students from Japan receive fellowship from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.