The Art of Dissemination: Writing Cultures is a two-day colloquium organised in collaboration with the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC), on 13 and 14 February 2015 at the Jadunath Bhavan Museum & Resource Centre, in Calcutta.

The colloquium draws on Asia Art Archive’s ongoing research into how art writing in various languages, and its geo-political dynamics, shaped discussions around modern art in the 20th century. The colloquium will map key debates across different Indian languages, and study the life of periodicals as a site that affects perceptions, imaginations, and tastes regarding art and culture—informed by broader institutional ramifications of state patronage, institution building, and pedagogic initiatives.

The colloquium situates art writing not as a field in itself, but as a rich, layered, and highly contested site of production and dissemination of discourse. Rather than using predetermined disciplines; fine arts, literature, art history, popular culture, or traditional arts; this event will cross-examine how a variety of fields and multiple lines of inquiry are redistributed to define art and its discursive expressions. Discussions may provide new frameworks to understand the politics of translation today—the ideological underpinnings of institutionalised practices, and the inflected positions of modernism and modernity. This programme will be an opportunity to broadly examine the political demands found in different linguistic fields, in order to re-think existing aesthetic paradigms.

Organised in collaboration with CSSSC, this multidisciplinary colloquium is also part of the AAA’s Publications Project, which seeks to address the urgencies surrounding modern art in India through translated volumes of notable art writing. The project is led by a core editorial team that includes; Santhosh S., Vidya Shivadas, Sneha Ragavan, and Sabih Ahmed, who working closely with researchers; Noopur Desai, Jayashree Venkatadurai, Spandan Bhattacharya, and Rahul Dev, focus on written material published in Marathi, Tamil, Bengali, Hindi, and English periodicals, in the second half of the 20th century.


Programme Schedule

Day 1
Friday 13 Feb 2015, 9.15am–6.30pm


Welcome and Introduction by CSSSC and AAA

Keynote Address by Partha Chatterjee

Tapati Guha-Thakurta 


Paradigms: Acts of Language I

Language as Political Commons and the Disciplined Eye of Modernity
M. Madhava Prasad

Paris/Calcutta: The Topology of Modernity and Enclosures of Difference
Rajan Krishnan

Partha Chatterjee



An Enquiry into the Regional Modern: Mapping the Notion of Navata or Newness in the Art Writings in Marathi Periodicals (1950s-1970s)
Noopur Desai

Prachi Deshpande


Paradigms: Genres of Criticism

Articulating an Aesthetic: The Emergence of the Modern Music Critic in South India
Lakshmi Subramanian

Tamil Literary Criticism and Aesthetics
Kiran Keshavmurthy

Rajan Krishnan



Nation, Region and the Question of the Modern: Discourses on Art in Print Culture in Tamil
Jayashree Venkatadurai

M. Madhava Prasad


Conversation between R. Siva Kumar and Gulammohammed Sheikh

Day 2
Saturday 14 Feb 2015, 10am–5.30pm


Paradigms: Acts of Language II
Tharakeshwar V.B.

Politics of Equivalence in Knowledge Production: The Role of Corpus Based Studies
Milind Wakankar

Unbrahmanical Aesthetics as Metacommentary/ Abrahmani Saundaryashastraci Mimansapaddhati

Rimli Bhattacharya



Fashioning Indianness, Traversing Indigenism: A Mapping of Hindi Art Writings (With a Special Reference to Bihar)
Rahul Dev

Milind Wakankar


Paradigms: The State of Institutions

The Pen Put to another Use: Reminiscences and Official Reports of the Painter Mahadev Viswanath Dhurandhar
Shukla Sawan

An (Indian) Experiment with Craft
Santhosh S.

The Institution of Art and the Journal: Periodicals as Sites of Legitimacy
Vidya Shivadas


Tapati Guha-Thakurta



Structuring an Idea(l) of Art: A Note on the Art Writing in the Bengali Periodicals of Calcutta from the 1960s to the 1980s
Spandan Bhattacharya

Manas Ray


Post-Script: A Preface to an Unfinished Project


Closing Panel on AAA’s Publications project

Sabih Ahmed
Sneha Ragavan
Santhosh S.
Vidya Shivadas

Tapati Guha-Thakurta



Sabih Ahmed, AAA Senior Researcher 

Rimli Bhattacharya, Professor, Gender Studies, at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta

Spandan Bhattacharya, Visiting faculty at the Department of Media Studies, University of Calcutta and NSHM knowledge campus, Kolkata 

Partha Chatterjee, Visiting faculty at the Symbiosis Centre for Liberal Arts, Pune, PhD scholar at the School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Noopur Desai, Visiting faculty at the Symbiosis Centre for Liberal Arts, Pune and is a PhD scholar at the School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Prachi Deshpande, Associate Professor of History at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

Rahul Dev, Guest Lecturer School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU, New Delhi

Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Professor in History and the Director of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

Kiran Keshavmurthy, Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

Rajan Krishnan, Assistant Professor film studies in the School of Culture and Creative Expressions, Ambedkar University, Delhi

M. Madhava Prasad, Professor of Cultural Studies at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad

R. Siva Kumar, Professor of Art History at Visva Bharati in Santiniketan

Sneha Ragavan, AAA Researcher 

Manas Ray, Professor at Cultural Studies and Sociology at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

Santhosh S., Assistant Professor at the School of Culture and Creative Expressions at Ambedkar University, Delhi

Shukla Sawant, Associate Professor of Visual Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jahaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Gulammohammed Sheikh, Artist, poet, writer and pedagogue from Baroda

Vidya Shivadas, Curator and Director of Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA)

Lakshmi Subramanian, Professor of History and Dean (Academic Affairs) at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

Jayashree Venkatadurai, Assistant Professor, Department of Visual Communications, Faculty of Community Education and Entrepreneurship, Avinashilingam Deemed University for Women, Coimbatore

Tharakeshwar V.B., Heads of the Department of Translation Studies at the EFL University, Hyderabad

Milind Wakankar, Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Science, IIT-Delhi


This programme has been generously supported by Thapar Public Charitable Trust.

Presented by

Asia Art Archive in collaboration with The Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

About The Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

The Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, was founded in February, 1973. The Centre’s Professors and Fellows are academics of high merit from the fields of economics, history, political science, sociology, social anthropology, geography and cultural studies. The unique interdisciplinary culture in the Centre allows for collaboration between people from different fields for research that might not find support in traditional department-based institutions.

The CSSSC has built up a unique archival collection of text and visual material pertaining to 19th and 20th century Bengal. Named after the historian, Hitesranjan Sanyal, the archive project began in 1993 with the microfilming of 19th and early 20th century Bengali periodicals. The extensive periodical collection is now fully digitized and widely used by scholars from all over the world. The CSSSC archive also has substantial Assamese language material of 19th and mid-20th century. The visual archive began in 1996 and at present has a digitized repository of over 30,000 images gleaned from various sources.