ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

A snap in time: Exposure and evidence in colonial South Asia


Maclean Kama - University of Heidelberg


24 – Timely Histories: A Social History of Time in South Asia


 Early photography was limited by the longer exposures that were mandated by the nineteenth century forms of camera technology, that were best suited to static, compliant subjects and landscapes. Shortening the time it takes to snap a photograph was one of the factors that drove developments in camera technology from the late nineteenth century. With the development of technologies enabling shorter exposures in the early twentieth century, the camera is able to record an instant, and thus capture and record moments of colonial brutality. However the furtive nature of the event of violence and the still limited technology of the camera means that there remains a critical lapse of time. This paper analyses photography deployed in Congress reports of the twentieth century that document moments of colonial brutality, to highlight the disjunctions of time and evidence.