Gods in the Bazaar

9780822339069: Hardback
Release Date: 6th April 2007

9780822339267: Paperback
Release Date: 6th April 2007

156 color illustrations

Dimensions: 181 x 260

Number of Pages: 448

Series Objects/Histories

Duke University Press Books

Gods in the Bazaar

The Economies of Indian Calendar Art

Hardback / £99.00
Paperback / £25.99

Gods in the Bazaar is a fascinating account of the printed images known in India as “calendar art” or “bazaar art,” the color-saturated, mass-produced pictures often used on calendars and in advertisements, featuring deities and other religious themes as well as nationalist leaders, alluring women, movie stars, chubby babies, and landscapes. Calendar art appears in all manner of contexts in India: in chic elite living rooms, middle-class kitchens, urban slums, village huts; hung on walls, stuck on scooters and computers, propped up on machines, affixed to dashboards, tucked into wallets and lockets. In this beautifully illustrated book, Kajri Jain examines the power that calendar art wields in Indian mass culture, arguing that its meanings derive as much from the production and circulation of the images as from their visual features.

Jain draws on interviews with artists, printers, publishers, and consumers as well as analyses of the prints themselves to trace the economies—of art, commerce, religion, and desire—within which calendar images and ideas about them are formulated. For Jain, an analysis of the bazaar, or vernacular commercial arena, is crucial to understanding not only the calendar art that circulates within the bazaar but also India’s postcolonial modernity and the ways that its mass culture has developed in close connection with a religiously inflected nationalism. The bazaar is characterized by the coexistence of seemingly incompatible elements: bourgeois-liberal and neoliberal modernism on the one hand, and vernacular discourses and practices on the other. Jain argues that from the colonial era to the present, capitalist expansion has depended on the maintenance of these multiple coexisting realms: the sacred, the commercial, and the artistic; the official and the vernacular.

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

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] world full of surprising diversity, economic ingenuity, and artistic acumen both from the author and her subject.” - Stefaan Van Ryssen, Leonardo

“[T]here is no doubt that the author has written a most interesting, illuminative and valuable book on the calendar art of India, which is bound to serve as an authoritative source of reference to scholars and lay people alike for a long time to come.” - Singaravelu Sachithanantham, Asian Anthropology

Gods in the Bazaar is a rich and sophisticated treatment of visual culture in India. . . . Through close reading and ethnographic exploration, Jain provides a compelling account of the way in which these images permeate everyday life and animate the meaning of modernity in postcolonial India. . . . Jain makes an exemplary contribution to the scholarship on how popular art forms intertwine with quotidian practices and gain both meaning and value across communities and over time. . . . Kajri Jain’s book is replete with beautiful collection of images ranging from gods and goddesses, to divine babies, to national icons.” - Radha S. Hegde, Anthropological Quarterly

“Jain is thoroughly engaged in the literatures of South Asian art history, history, and anthropology, and she makes sustained interventions in religious studies. Her book should command the attention of scholars in all of those disciplines and would be of use in both undergraduate and graduate classes studying modern South Asia. . . . [T]he strength of Jain’s account argues forcefully that an understanding of Indian visual culture is essential to an understanding of Indian public culture as a whole.” - Karin Zitzewitz, Journal of Asian Studies

Gods in the Bazaar is replete with glorious color illustrations, providing a feast for a reader’s eyes and much material for thought. . . . Jain is to be commended for her meticulous research and provocative insights, which mark this study of bazaar arts.” - Joanna Kirkpatrick, Visual Anthropology

“This book is groundbreaking for modern Indian visual culture.” - Ajay Sinha, Art History

“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 assign 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

Gods in the Bazaar is replete with glorious color illustrations, providing a feast for a reader’s eyes and much material for thought. . . . Jain is to be commended for her meticulous research and provocative insights, which mark this study of bazaar arts.”

Joanna Kirkpatrick
Visual Anthropology

Gods in the Bazaar is a rich and sophisticated treatment of visual culture in India. . . . Through close reading and ethnographic exploration, Jain provides a compelling account of the way in which these images permeate everyday life and animate the meaning of modernity in postcolonial India. . . . Jain makes an exemplary contribution to the scholarship on how popular art forms intertwine with quotidian practices and gain both meaning and value across communities and over time. . . . Kajri Jain’s book is replete with beautiful collection of images ranging from gods and goddesses, to divine babies, to national icons.”

Radha S. Hegde
Anthropological Quarterly

“[A] world full of surprising diversity, economic ingenuity, and artistic acumen both from the author and her subject.”

Stefaan Van Ryssen
Leonardo

“[T]here is no doubt that the author has written a most interesting, illuminative and valuable book on the calendar art of India, which is bound to serve as an authoritative source of reference to scholars and lay people alike for a long time to come.”

Singaravelu Sachithanantham
Asian Anthropology

“Jain is thoroughly engaged in the literatures of South Asian art history, history, and anthropology, and she makes sustained interventions in religious studies. Her book should command the attention of scholars in all of those disciplines and would be of use in both undergraduate and graduate classes studying modern South Asia. . . . [T]he strength of Jain’s account argues forcefully that an understanding of Indian visual culture is essential to an understanding of Indian public culture as a whole.”

Karin Zitzewitz
Journal of Asian Studies