Capturing Birsa Munda: The virtuality of a Colonial-Era Photograph

Daniel J Rycroft


By using the images of Birsa Munda’s photograph, copy print of a portrait and poster, this article analyses the historical and ideological conditions that brought about the two-fold capture of Birsa Munda (the anti-missionary, anti-diku, anti-Raj and freedom fighter from Ranchi) by Anglican missionaries and Raj police in 1895 and discusses the dissemination of these photographic images from camera to archive to mass viewership. It cites the writings of contemporary academics and activists to relate the viewing and celebration of Birsa’s image to issues of post-nationalism. It also debates the form, meaning and history of this memorializing process.

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