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Empires of LightVision, Visibility and Power in Colonial India$
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Niharika Dinkar

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781526139634

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526139641

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Four acts of seeing: the veil as technology of illumination

Four acts of seeing: the veil as technology of illumination

(p.67) 2 Four acts of seeing: the veil as technology of illumination
Empires of Light

Niharika Dinkar

Manchester University Press

This chapter examines the emergence of the Indian landscape into the visibility of the Western world, drawing upon the iconography of unveiling as consonant with the trope of ‘discovery’. In the context of the civilising mission of empire, such acts of unveiling served as technologies of illumination, bringing light into benighted lands. The images examined foreground not only epistemological issues where visibility implies a transcendence of the darkness of Oriental mystique but are equally invested in aestheticising landscapes, so that exotic lands emerge as sites of visual pleasure. The ritual of unveiling dramatises the act of seeing, holding out the promise of an unmediated vision and the revelation of buried secrets and hidden pleasures.

Keywords:   Acts of seeing, Veil, Illumination, Visibility, Unveiling, Discovery, Empire, Light, Oriental

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