Lisa Trivedi.

Lisa Trivedi, the Christian A. Johnson Excellence in Teaching Professor of History, recently published an article titled “(In)visible Subjects: Pranlal Patel’s Women at Work in Ahmedabad, India, 1937” in Trans Asia Photography. According to publisher Duke University Press, the open-access international peer-reviewed journal “examines all aspects of photographic history, theory, and practice by centering images in or of Asia, conceived here as a territory, network, and cultural imaginary.”

Trivedi’s article focuses on photos, taken by Pranlal K. Patel in 1937, that feature women at work in Ahmedabad, India. “Rather than depicting women’s contributions as peripheral to the productivity of Ahmedabad’s economic life and isolated from the public, Patel pictured women as subjects working in the city’s major marketplaces and as integral to the city’s industrial productivity,” Trivedi says.

She argues that “historical photography may provide what Elizabeth Edwards terms a ‘historiographical think-space’ that challenges conventional historical sources and the narratives they produce,” and says that “by engaging Ariella Azoulay’s ethical spectators in the civil contract of photography, historians can use historical photography to confront the historical roots of inequality that shape our world today.”

In January, Trivedi participated in the Other Sources in the Humanities symposium, hosted by FLAME University in India. In addition to presenting the closing remarks in which she responded to other papers presented in the symposium, she presented “Refocusing the Lens: History of Modern India through Historical Photography,” her own paper on Patel’s work.

Kevin GrantAccording to the symposium program, by “drawing upon the critical theories of photography, Trivedi tells the remarkable story of this early 20th century photographic series not only for what it tell[s] us about the past, but also how it might open new subjects relevant for contemporary India.”

Kevin Grant, the Edgar B. Graves Professor of History, also attended the symposium. He presented “Images and Objects to Imagine: 19th-century photographs on paper, glass, and iron,” a paper showing “how the historical significance of photographs expands when one looks beyond images to acknowledge photographs as objects that were produced and distributed in specific ways.”

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