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Some 70 years after the British left India it is timely to look back at how the kings and queens of the United Kingdom came to amass one of the largest private collections of South Asian art in the world. Two conjoined exhibitions currently showing at the Queen’s Gallery do just that.
In Room 145 of the Ceramics Galleries of the Victoria & Albert Museum, at the top of case 50, you can see an ‘architectural fragment’, which, according to its label, ‘once ornamented a palace in Yuanmingyuan or “garden of perfect clarity”’.
Early in his study of radio in the USSR, Stephen Lovell quotes Rick Altman: ‘new technologies are always born nameless’ (p. 2). New technologies, that is to say, do not arrive with a self-evident purpose, and are understood initially relative to what already exists.
Bangladesh today is the only nation-state in the Indian subcontinent with levels of ethnic homogeneity similar to Western or Central Europe.
In Kimono: A Modern History, textile historian Terry Satsuki Milhaupt encourages her readers to ‘reflect deeply and broadly on what the kimono has meant at various points in its long history’ (p. 287). In this ambitious project, she identifies ‘modern’ with the period from the 1850s onwards.
With contemporary Japanese-Korean relations so inextricably entrenched within contentious politics of national identity and divergent expressions of historical consciousness, Jun Uchida’s Brokers of Empire could not be a more welcome addition to the field of modern East Asian history.
Some years ago, in the midst of a conversation about tourism and travelling, a friend from one of Britain’s former colonies remarked how shocked she had been to see ‘white people begging’ during her first trip abroad to Australia.
The subject of sati – more commonly known to Anglophone readers as ‘suttee’, a term which was used by 18th- and 19th-century writers to signify the self-immolation of Hindu widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands (1) – has long been of interest to historians.
In September of 1934, an incredulous (or perhaps simply amused) Dutch official wrote from Batavia to his mentor in Leiden telling of the most incredible journey made by a family of Sundanese from West Java.
It is perhaps less true today than it was a decade ago that ‘an enormous number of early photographs of China lie largely ignored or unknown’, as Regine Thiriez, one of the pioneers of the field who has spent many years collecting and studying scattered and often very small albums, wrote in 1999.(1) During the last two decades the so-called ‘pictorial turn’ in the huma