Associate Professor of History Lisa Trivedi was a featured speaker in the South Asia Program Seminar Series at Cornell University on April 9. Trivedi's talk "Women at Work in India: Photographs from Ahmedabad, 1937," examined a collection of some 70 photographs taken by Pranlal Patel and commissioned by the Jyoti Sangh, a women's organization.
The photographs constitute an important material product of early twentieth century philanthropy and photography. Strikingly, Patel's photographs of women are particularly interesting for their time because they challenge the view of of women's work as isolated and they resist the temptation to eroticize and exoticize women. Pranlal Patel created intimate portraits of the ordinary women he photographed 70 years ago by drawing out the integrity of his subjects, as well as their industriousness.
Trivedi's research on Patel's photographs has been made possible by a grant from the Dean of Faculty at Hamilton College. She hopes that this new project will result both in a new history seminar on photography and an exhibition in Hamilton's new art museum. The seminar was also sponsored by Cornell's Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies program, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.