Envisioning India: South Asians, exhibitions and the development of nation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

  • Denise Gonyo

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis explores the envisioning of India through two different but related exhibitionary forms: it examines the record of South Asian experiences of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, the Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886 and the organisation of exhibitions hosted by the Indian National Congress in the subcontinent between 1901 and 1905. Through a detailed analysis of a range of related primary sources, including contemporary South Asian travel narratives, Indian National Congress proceedings, and local publications such as the Times of India and Indian Textile Journal, this thesis investigates the ways in which South Asians, specifically those who could be considered urban elites, constructed the modern Indian nation in relation to their visiting and organising of these exhibitions. Deploying the critical frameworks of the study of the history and theory of Great Exhibitions, which, in turn, are informed by postcolonial theories, the thesis reveals the ways in which South Asians disseminated the idea of modernity but also, importantly, the ways in which they negotiated, complicated and, in part, made these imperially inflected ideals their own.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton

Cite this