In 2018 India’s prime minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the world’s tallest statue: a 597-foot figure of nationalist leader Sardar Patel. Twice the height of the Statue of Liberty, it is but one of many massive statues built following India’s economic reforms of the 1990s. Drawing on a decade of fieldwork at giant statue sites in India and its diaspora, Kajri Jain's Gods in the Time of Democracy examines how monumental icons emerged as a religious and political form in contemporary India. Centering the ex-colony in rethinking key concepts of the image, it mobilizes the concept of emergence towards a radical treatment of art historical objects as dynamic assemblages. Its richly layered narrative describes how these public icons have proliferated at the intersections between new image technologies, neo-spiritual religious movements, Hindu nationalist politics, globalization, and Dalit-Bahujan verifications of equality and presence.
Kavita Singh, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Francis Cody, Anthropology/Asian Institute, University of Toronto
Yi Gu, Arts, Culture & Media/Art History, University of Toronto
J. Barton Scott, Historical Studies/Study of Religion, University of Toronto
Kajri Jain, Visual Studies/Art History, University of Toronto
Christoph Emmrich, Director of the Centre for South Asian Studies; Associate Professor, Buddhist Studies and the Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto