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ISSN 1749-8155

Afterimage of Empire: Photography in Nineteenth-Century IndiaPrinter-friendly versionPDF version

Book:
Afterimage of Empire: Photography in Nineteenth-Century India
Zahid Chaudhary
Minneapolis, MN, University of Minnesota Press, 2012, ISBN: 9780816677498; 256pp.; Price: £22.50
Reviewer:
Ms Carla Manfredi
Queen's University
Citation:
Ms Carla Manfredi, review of Afterimage of Empire: Photography in Nineteenth-Century India, (review no. 1368)
http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/1368
Date accessed: 20 September, 2014

Comments

Peter SaltWed, 06/02/2013 - 11:11
I am not a specialist in this area, but I get the impression from this review that this could be a very interesting book. However, I also get the impression that I am likely to find it a difficult book to read, packed with unfamiliar words or with words used in unfamiliar ways. I am not ashamed to say that this is the first time that I have encountered the word “indexically”, or that my first reaction to the expression “dialectic of (in)visibility” is to wonder whether it could have been put more straightforwardly. One might hope that a review from someone familiar with the field, published on a wide-ranging site like this one, would help to make the book’s argument accessible to non-specialists, but sadly this one does not, for me at least.
Anthony PayneThu, 07/02/2013 - 13:58
I am a specialist in a related field - photography in 19th-century China - but I could n't agree more. There's no excuse for such vocabulary, which I suspect often disguises imprecise thought and at best is needlessly pretentious. Unfamiliar, or technical, words are only necessary when applied to the technology and techniques of photography, not its criticism.
John BordwellFri, 15/02/2013 - 16:22
I disagree. Criticism can be addressed to all kinds of audiences, and if all criticism aimed to eschew technical terms then it would be a sorry affair indeed. After all, where does one draw the line? Some vocabulary may be unfamiliar to you, Anthony, but it may not be unfamiliar to others. I understand that jargon can often hide imprecise thought, but just because a term is unfamiliar to us and/or we have not read enough to have come across it in the past does not mean that term is useless. Clearly this book is for a specialized audience. If I read it I may not have the context for knowing all of its interventions but I am sure I would get something out of it. The review actually makes me very curious about it.
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