South Asian Photo 101: Christopher Pinney

South Asian Photo 101 is a set of blog post designed to explore all the basics one needs to know to have a general understanding of photography in South Asia from artist to art galleries and festivals.

An essay by Christopher Pinney in Photography’s Other Histories was my introduction to the photographic arts of India. Since then I have read as many books and articles I can get my hands on by Pinney. Pinney has had a long career and continues to contribute to the knowledge of photography in India.

Christopher Pinney was born in Sri Lanka in 1959. Currently, he is a professor of Anthropology and Visual Culture at University College London. He graduated from London School of Economics in 1987 with a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology. Thus, his approach to the study of photography is slightly different than an art historian. He has dedicated his research to the way photography functions in society primarily in Central India. His book Camera Indica: The Social Life of Images in India, focuses on the roles the portrait studios and their photographs play in the lives of the patrons.

His other books include Photography and Anthropology which looks at the role photographs have played in anthropological studies, Photos of the Gods: The Printed Image and Political Struggle in India, Allegory and Illusion: Early Portrait Photography from South Asia (co-editor Beth Citron) which looks at portrait photography from the nineteenth century, The Coming of Photography in India which explores the many avenues photography was explored in the early history of photography in India, Artisan Camera: Studio Photography from Central India, an exhibition catalog that accompanied the work of Suresh Punjabi at the Delhi Photography Festival 2013, and Photography’s Other Histories which he co-edited with Nicolas Peterson. Photography’s Other Histories examines a variety of photographic topics from regions often overlooked by the histories of photography being taught in the United States and Europe.

In addition to these publication, he has contributed chapters to many books and essays to numerous articles. You can explore some of these publications on his website

On his website, you can find out more information about his interests and research. He has contributed a great deal to the study of photography in India and I am sure he will continue to do so. He is a scholar that has greatly influenced me and my research and I hope the information provided here will help spur the interest of others.

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By |2018-10-12T16:30:35-05:00March 3rd, 2017|South Asian Photo 101|0 Comments

About the Author:

Betsy Williamson is an assistant professor of art in the state of New Mexico. Before coming to New Mexico for this job she was an adjunct professor throughout Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, teaching photography and art appreciation. Between September 2015 and May 2017, she took a break from teaching to pursue art, research and life in India. Now she is back to teaching and part-timing it in India.

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