Dr Nimra Rizvi

UK Host Institution: University College London
Project status

Multiple Lives of Indian Objects: Material Culture and Knowledge Production in 19th century South Asia

I propose to study loot and pillage as a mode of object circulation in nineteenth-century north India. By examining the events of the Uprising of 1857, I will study the circulation of objects propelled in a moment of cataclysmic frenzy, the recodification of knowledge embodied in objects as they cross borders and change owners or contexts and the centrality of objects in the performance of empire.

Unpacking regional material and textual histories to understand empire building as a fragmented process that relied on several knowledge systems to articulate and assert its identity, I will examine the organization of discourses on looted objects as an instrument of state power. Since objects acquired through loot by individuals and the British state were the cornerstone of institutions such as museums, exhibitions and repositories, the project will illuminate the creation and dissemination of knowledge through material culture, revealing how it made colonial power operational.

Sign up to our email newsletters