An Introduction

We are delighted to welcome you to Tasveer Ghar: A Digital Network of South Asian Popular Visual Culture. Tasveer Ghar is a trans-national virtual “home” for collecting, digitizing, and documenting various materials produced by South Asia’s exciting popular visual sphere including posters, calendar art, pilgrimage maps and paraphernalia, cinema hoardings, advertisements, and other forms of street and bazaar art.

Some of the key fields of exploration within the network are:

(a) the social and performative life of mass-produced images;
(b) the histories and everyday lives and voices of producers, disseminators and ‘consumers’ of mass-produced images;
(c) various techniques of visuality/media of visualisation (for instance, ritual or theatrical per­formance, or political spectacle).

We also hope that such a digital 'home', which we envisage as an open access, democratic space, will also serve as a hub around which to promote dialogue and debate on matters pertaining to South Asian popular visual culture. Our anticipation is that Tasveer Ghar will promote inter-disciplinary scholarly exchange on South Asian popular visual culture across the globe between academics, artists, and others interested in this topic.

Over the last decade since its formal founding in 2006, Tasveer Ghar has been supported by:

(1) Adarsh and Ranvir Trehan of the Trehan Foundation to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA (2007-09). With these start-up funds, we planned several exciting events over the course of three years. These activities are currently limited to Indian popular visual culture, but as and when we raise more funds, we hope to expand our reach to cover the other countries of the South Asian subcontinent.

(2) German Research Foundation, via Heidelberg University’s Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context. Shifting Asymmetries in Cultural Flows”. This funding allowed Tasveer Ghar to expand its scope beyond India, and look at the cultural flows between Europe and Asia in popular Muslim iconography (see workshops and Visual Pilgrim). This support was also used to digitize the Priya Paul Collection (New Delhi), making it available to scholars, students and researchers around the world.

(3) The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany via the Anneliese Maier Research Award granted to one of our co-founders Sumathi Ramaswamy(2016-2020).  These funds under-write our latest project, Manly Matters: Representations of Maleness in South Asian Popular Visual Culture.” 

Tasveer Ghar is located in two institutional nodes:

  • Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg University, Germany.
  • Duke University, Durham, N.C., USA.

The principals at these institutions are Sumathi Ramaswamy and Christiane Brosius.

Yousuf Saeed is based in New Delhi.

You can read more about us here

We invite you—as friend, colleague, and partner—to join this initiative in whatever capacity that you are comfortable with, whether you are a collector of mass-produced images from South Asia and are looking for a ‘home’ to publicize your collection, a critic wishing to write an image essay to add to our visual galleries, a teacher or a student who wishes to use the essays, or an interested reader.  We also welcome feedback and suggestions for improving our ‘home.’

Christiane, Sumathi, and Yousuf