Postcolonial Happiness : British Empire and Indian Art

Colonialism has been time and again relegated by several historians to the space of repression, trauma, violence, abuse of power or the disparity between the politics of British colonisers and their colonies. Though this lecture does not negate the conversations on and around decolonisation, it mainly focuses on the residual positive effects of colonialism on the art and culture of South Asia-mainly on the Indian subcontinent. The association of the British empire with India dates back to the 15th century where many British travellers visited the subcontinent for trade especially for spices, raw materials and rare jewels. The proposed discussion on Postcolonialism and its impact on Indian art is not an attempt to salvage the glorious or inglorious imperial past but to learn how the new world can move beyond this period – together, towards a place of mutual respect, diversity and inclusiveness.

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Aditi Kumar is an Art historian, Curator and Cultural practitioner. She completed her PhD in 2020 from the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. Her research work focuses on visual histories and identity politics of marginalised communities (both displaced and diasporic). She has a keen interest in postcolonial theory, various identity formations in the nation-states and their reflections through visual cultures of the Global South. Most recently, she has been working with the Jammu & Kashmir diaspora communities settled in the UK.

Aditi Kumar - art historian
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