Description de l'atelier / Panel description
Suzanne Bardgett  1@  , Pragya Dhital  2@  , Diya Gupta  3@  , Sejal Sutaria  3@  
1 : Imperial War Museums  (IWM)  -  Website
Lambeth Road London SE1 6HZ -  Royaume-Uni
2 : School of Oriental and African Studies  (SOAS)
3 : King's College London  (KCL)

Panel presentation :


This panel investigates representations of British rule during global war contained in various media: photographs of atrocities committed during the First World War, distributed as propaganda for the Khilafat movement, which arose in support of the Ottoman caliph and was later to become part of the Indian independence movement; letters sent by Indian soldiers during the Second World War, dictated to scribes and then intercepted by the colonial censor; interviews of Indian civil servants and social activists, recounting memories of the same period, but recorded in the 1970s, which were subsequently edited to produce a popular BBC radio series.

Written from the disciplinary perspectives of media, literary and sound studies, all three papers emerge from material relating to colonial India held at the British Library: a collection of proscribed publications, military censorship reports and BBC recordings. The papers read these sources against the grain by focusing on the different media through which they were transmitted, the context in which they were embedded, and the means by which they were disseminated.

Particular attention is paid to the editorialising of this material – captioned photographs, censored words, excluded interviews. All three papers explore how these efforts were undercut by the dynamic nature of the communication process, whereby the significance of a message varies depending upon author, audience and the historical moment in which it is circulated.

A time of global war has been selected as a period in which the contingent nature of this process is heightened, as disparate peoples are connected and spatiotemporal distances collapsed. Colonial India has been chosen as a context of low levels of literacy but high levels of literacy awareness, in which interconnections between image, word and sound are particularly clear in texts meant to be seen and heard as much as ‘read'. 

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