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Gods in the Bazaar


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A theoretically informed cultural study of the design, production, and circulation of Indian calendar art

Table of Contents

Notes on Style vii
Acknowledgments ix
Introduction: Calendar Art as an Object of Knowledge 1
Part 1. Genealogy
1. Vernacularizing Capitalism: Sivakasi and Its Circuits 31
2. When the Gods Go to Market 77
3. Naturalizing the Popular 115
Part 2. Economy
4. The Sacred Icon in the Age of the Work of Art and Mechanical Reproduction 171
5. The Circulation of Images and the Embodiment of Value 217
Part 3. Efficacy
6. The Efficacious Image and the Sacralization of Modernity 269
7. Flexing the Canon 315
Conclusion 355
Notes 375
Works Cited 409
Index 427

About the Author

Kajri Jain is Assistant Professor in the Departments of Film Studies and Visual Arts at the University of Western Ontario. She previously trained and worked as a graphic designer in India.


"A virtuoso examination of the 'luminous banality' of calendar art. In mapping the moral economy of bazaar Hinduism, it provides a history of much of twentieth-century India and predicts much of what might happen in the present century."--Christopher Pinney, author of "Photos of the Gods": The Printed Image and Political Struggle in India "In this groundbreaking book, Kajri Jain analyzes the 'frames of value' surrounding the contemporary Indian genre of mass-produced prints often known as bazaar art, 'lurid, pungent, frequently tatty' colored images of gods displayed on calendars. Recognizing that the value of these printed images to their viewers far exceeds their literal material value or the value that we might be tempted to assigned to them in artistic terms, in a rich and vivid analysis based on firsthand research in the calendar-art industry, Jain deals with their many values--social, political, religious, aesthetic, historical, affective, and libidinal. Gods in the Bazaar makes a significant theoretical contribution to globalizing our notion of aesthetic experience; in the sensuous and sacred economies of calendar art, what appears to be lurid and tatty can also be moving, precious, and exciting. Jain's deft weaving of art history, aesthetics, anthropology, and the study of popular visual culture is a tour de force and deserves a wide readership among students of all image-making traditions around the world."--Whitney Davis, Professor of History and Theory of Ancient and Modern Art, University of California, Berkeley

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