Reversible Jacket with Poster
Insurgency and the Artist explores not merely how Indian printmakers and artists responded to the freedom struggle but rather how the art they fashioned invoked their own conception of the nation, their sense of the past, and the contours of the movement for India’s emancipation from the yoke of colonial oppression. Recent scholarly work has been almost entirely riveted on nationalist prints, and much of it has focused on the idea of Bharat Mata, but this book seeks to furnish a more rounded account of the artwork—including etchings, paintings, woodblocks prints, and cartoons—contemporary to the freedom struggle and also highlights the work of neglected artists such as Babuji Shilpi, S.L. Parasher, Zainul Abedin, and M.V. Dhurandhar, among others. The author considers how the Indian past was rendered as one of martial resistance to ‘foreign’ rule, the manner in which artists worked with mythic material, and, of course, the treatment of the larger-than-life figures of Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Subhas Bose, and other patriots in nationalist art. This gloriously illustrated work simultaneously offers a narrative history of the freedom struggle and the rich interplay of text and images is designed to offer insights that neither conventional histories nor images can offer in isolation. Insurgency and the Artist is also an inquiry into how ideas travel across borders, the porousness of culture, and the relationship of art to politics.
‘In this learned and fascinating study, Professor Lal brings to life India’s struggle for freedom from British rule by subtly knitting together, through images, in its different forms, and graphic word, India’s passage to independence … From it we learn progressively that it is not only the militant agitator who becomes an agent of social and political change, but the militant artist as well.’- JULIUS LIPNER Professor emeritus of Hinduism, University of Cambridge
‘Vinay Lal is a rare historian who imagines and creates an archive of his own. Insurgency and the Artist exemplifies this. It is a document of immense beauty that draws one to think of freedom in and through images.’- TRIDIP SUHRUD Professor and Provost, CEPT University, Ahmedabad
‘Vinay Lal’s wonderful history reminds us forcefully how much the political ideas and ideals of nationalism were conveyed by images rather than words— by the visceral persuasion of visuality. This book offers a comprehensive analysis of the visions of destitution, oppression, defiance, sacrifice and freedom out of which the vast emotions of Indian nationalism were forged.’- SUDIPTA KAVIRAJ Professor of Indian Intellectual History, Columbia University
About the Author
VINAY LAL is a cultural critic, writer, blogger, and Professor of History and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His intellectual and research interests include South Asian history, comparative colonial histories, the politics of knowledge systems, cinema, cultures of sexuality, the global histories of nonviolence, and the thought of Mohandas Gandhi. His twenty some authored and edited books include Empire of Knowledge: Culture and Plurality in the Global Economy (Pluto Press, 2002); The History of History: Politics and Scholarship in Modern India (Oxford, 2003); Of Cricket, Guinness and Gandhi (Penguin, 2005); Political Hinduism (Oxford, 2009); the two-volume Oxford Anthology of the Modern Indian City (2013); and The Fury of Covid-19: The Politics, Histories, and Unrequited Love of the Coronavirus (Pan Macmillan India, 2020). He is a founding member of the Backwaters Collective on Metaphysics and Politics and the editor of its book series from Oxford, including India and the Unthinkable (2016), India and Civilizational Futures (2019), and India and Its Intellectual Traditions (forthcoming, 2023).
He blogs for ABP, India’s largest media network, and at vinaylal.wordpress.com, and he has an academic YouTube channel: https:// www.youtube.com/user/dillichalo.