An archaeology of social space, a sifting through the accumulated debris of modernity, provides me with a frame to make visible the everyday tactics of space-making through which a modern religion emerged in Vrindavan, the primary pilgrimage site in north India where the god Krishna is said to have spent his youth. Displacing post-Enlightenment dichotomies such as faith/ideology and secular/religious, I show how spatio-visual practices were central in the making of subjectivities in 19th and 20th-century India. In my narrative, the space of religion - both real and metaphoric - becomes a key liminal socio-political arena where religious and visual practices coincide in resisting the epistemological duality of (western) modernity and (nationalist) tradition. By reading together purportedly discrete practices such as temple building and anti-colonial political movements, cartography and theological texts, photography and road-making projects, "In The Name of Krishna" offers an understanding of modern religiosity and its spatial strategies. In its localized forms, the new strategies of space-making articulated in this small north Indian pilgrimage town made possible subjectivities, desires, and imperatives that went beyond the tyranny of modernity and its claim to the universal. My dissertation, then, is an attempt to rethink the terrains of these localized practices - insidious, minute, and fragmentary.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. April 2012. Major: Art History. Advisor: Frederick Asher. 1 computer file (PDF); xv, 359 pages.
In the Name of Krishna: The Cultural Landscape of a North Indian Pilgrimage Town.
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