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Abstract

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This article focuses on the deployment of the camera during a moment of acute political crisis in nineteenth-century India, when both the significance and the scope of British power were highly unstable, arguing that photography’s unique formal features enabled colonials to picture a precarious imperial sovereignty as a viable mode of political administration. The ability of photography to objectify and “other" colonized populations has been well documented, but the efficacy of imperialism as a mode of imperial governance was as much a function of imagining shared political horizons as it was about constructing divisive racial hierarchies. The levelling aesthetic of photography—its capacity to draw heterogeneous peoples into what Christopher Pinney has termed a “common epistemological space”—meant that it could serve as a visual register for the elusive connective tissue of imperial subjecthood, effectively reifying a useful political abstraction. Yet, as much as British sovereign authority could be embodied by this visual logic, British identity could simultaneously be dissolved by the homogenizing grammar of the medium. Looking in particular at the palliative, diplomatic role played by the photographic portraiture of Dr John Nicholas Tresidder in the immediate aftermath of the Indian Rebellion (1857–59), this article assesses how photography engaged with warfare’s social upheavals in complex, richly textured and unpredictable ways.

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Histories of early war photography routinely make at least passing reference to the fierce anti-colonial insurrection known variously as the Indian “Mutiny”, Uprising, or Rebellion (1857–59), a campaign from which emerged a plethora of dramatic photographs the like of which had not previously been seen.1 The extremity of this imagery—ranging in subject matter from scenes of rubble-strewn landscapes to pictures of dead rebels like Felice Beato’s The Inside of Secundra Bagh Where 2000 Men Were Killed (fig. 1)—signalled a critical departure from the comparatively staid images of previous conflicts, the most famous being Roger Fenton’s commercially produced photographs of the Crimean War (1853–56) (fig. 2).2 The Indian Rebellion therefore marks the point at which war photography fully embraced the shocking spectacle of violence that has continued to characterize the genre to this day. Yet the conflict also generated another important but hitherto overlooked development in the history of war photography. For the first time, landscapes of violence began to be documented by photographers who were civilian residents of the affected regions, with the camera serving as a means of coming to terms with the dizzying impact of warfare on familiar—and familial—environments.

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    Figure 1.


    Felice Beato, The Inside of Secundra Bagh Where 2000 Men Were Killed, 1858, albumen print. Collection of the The British Library Board, Photo 27/(2)


    Digital image courtesy of The British Library Board

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    Figure 2.


    Roger Fenton, Valley of the Shadow of Death, 23 April 1855, wet-collodion print. Collection of The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (84.XM.504.23)


    Digital image courtesy of The J. Paul Getty Museum (Open Content Program)

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Previous instances of war photography in the nineteenth century had involved western photographers venturing into unfamiliar terrain.3 In 1857, though, when Indian soldiers and civilians rose in revolt against a century-old British rule, they brought the fight to long-standing colonial settlements, threatening the domestic and civic structures of imperial life. Professional photographers like Beato—whose striking images of violence predominate in accounts of the uprising—duly travelled from Europe to cover the distant rebellion in India, but a number of colonials also turned to photography to chronicle what was, from their perspective, a local war. For Dr John Murray from Agra, Harriet Tytler from Delhi, and—the focus of this article—Dr John Nicholas Tresidder from Cawnpore, amateur picture-making formed part of a rooted and multi-layeredalbeit violently contestedrelationship to place that was very different from Beato’s globe-trotting commercialism. Their photography registered warfare’s transformative effects—and I mean this in a productive as well as destructive sense—on the civic and domestic realms of colonial society; indeed, for Tresidder, the new forms of visual praxis opened up by photography helped to shape the fraught psycho-social processes of post-conflict reconstruction, with the camera’s novel technical and aesthetic properties providing the means of mediating between violently alienated racial groups in India.

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Such intimate and socially productive photographic engagements with conflict are significant because, as a genre, war photography is frequently viewed rather restrictively with regard to peripatetic men like Beato. By this I mean that the camera is seen in terms of its touristic quality, documenting events from a position of alienation, and offering only a superficial engagement with violence and its aftermath, effectively peeling off the visual surface of disasters—reducing them to a consumer-friendly visual spectacle—and leaving their political substance un- or under-explained.4 Imperial photography is paradigmatic here, emanating as it does from a position of a foreign power seeking to render its violence palatable, and using, as Zahid R. Chaudhary has written about Beato’s work, “strategies of distancing” that are the “precondition for an aesthetic that manages to convert brutality into beauty”.5 Accounts like this identify important ethical and aesthetic issues in colonial conflict and post-conflict photography, and I don’t want to refute them here. But their emphasis on the distancing function of photography inhibits our appreciation of the camera’s capacity to mediate richly textured engagements with war-torn places.

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This article takes a different approach. It explores photography’s agency in reweaving the complex social fabric of a place more affected by atrocities than any other: the infamous colonial station of Cawnpore, a byword for cross-cultural slaughter.6 In the summer of 1857, following a period of siege, this was the site of a brutal massacre of colonial men, women, and children by insurgents. Afterwards, when the town had been reconquered and the British had discovered the bodies of their compatriots (many stuffed down a nearby well), a punitive wartime regime was installed. Indians suspected of having associated with the rebels were summarily hanged. Those believed to have been ringleaders were confronted with a more inventive vengeance. Prior to execution, they were brought to the dreaded “house of horrors”, within which rebels armed with meat cleavers had hacked to death hundreds of colonial civilians. They were then forced, under the threat of the lash, to lick clean a portion of the blood that still swamped the floor, something that was anathema to high-caste Indians and had been devised to make them believe “they doom their souls to perdition.”7 The animus that motivated this grisly episode was persistent. One tourist, writing over thirty years later, noted that the massacre “seems to hang over Cawnpore like a cloud even to this day, and to cause bitterness in the minds of Englishmen”.8 Cawnpore stood for violent Anglo-Indian division, a racial binarism underscored by the fact that no “native” was permitted to set foot in the famous memorial gardens erected during the grief-stricken aftermath of the war.9

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The disturbing resonance of commemorated violence raised urgent questions about how civil society could be reconstructed in the wake of internecine conflict, or a peaceable community imagined in places defined by crisis and rupture. Cawnpore was just one of numerous famous conflict sites that sustained popular practices of war tourism in British India. The geographical and ideological lineaments of these “mutiny tours”10 have been tracked by Ian Baucom and Manu Goswami; post-rebellion travel routes functioned as educational acts of “pilgrimage” for colonials, cementing divisive narratives of colonial bravery and native treachery, and ingraining a sense of hard-won British belonging to the Indian landscape.11 Photography played a key role here, with amateur and commercial practitioners both producing highly conventionalized images that filtered potentially traumatic locales through the soothingly placid aesthetics of the picturesque (fig. 3).12 Yet the stress that scholars have placed on the touristic dimension to these sites has meant that each is situated within an itinerary of shrines encountered transiently across northern India, as opposed to being theorized as multi-dimensional social environments. For all its grisly wartime baggage, Cawnpore continued to be a lived in space, where a multi-racial society was painfully reconstructed in the shadow of atrocity and its memorialization. But there is little sense of this in existing accounts.

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Figure 3.
Bourne & Shepherd, The Memorial Well, Cawnpore, ca. 1865, albumen print. Collection of The British Library Board, Photo 11/(45)


Digital image courtesy of The British Library Board

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Nowhere does the complexly multi-layered nature of post-conflict British India appear more vivid than in the imagery of the Cawnpore-resident Dr John Nicholas Tresidder, whose portrait of his colonial home consists of domestic, professional, and martial strands of Anglo-Indian society (fig. 4).13 Tresidder’s imagery survives in a little-studied personal album that chronicles the doctor’s time in Cawnpore and Agra in the late 1850s and early 1860s, some time spent on sick-leave in England around 1863, and his subsequent retirement in Falmouth.14 Nearly two hundred pages host careful arrangements of albumen and salt-paper prints with handwritten captions that cover everything from picnic parties to atrocity sites. Composed of photographs taken by Tresidder himself as well as scenes by contemporary colonial photographers like Murray and Beato (none attributed to their makers), the album is a record of photographic consumption as well as production. It affords a uniquely detailed insight into the fluid meanings of photographs as they were produced and compiled in ways that formed multiple—and not always harmonious—narratives about loss, revenge, and rapprochement in a settlement traumatized by violence.15 While the album incorporates some typical examples of contemporary war photography (images showing architectural devastation, sites of conflict, and symbols of social division), overall the collection prompts us to broaden our conception of the genre to include photographs that engage with the countervailing processes of social regeneration with regard to civic and domestic life.

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Figure 4.
Dr John Nicholas Tresidder, Personal, page 7 of The Tresidder Album, ca. 1858–64, albumen and salt-paper prints. Alkazi Collection of Photography


Digital image courtesy of The Alkazi Collection of Photography

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The ability of photography to objectify and “other” colonized populations has been well documented in scholarship, but the efficacy of imperialism as a mode of rule was as much a function of imagining shared professional and political horizons as it was about enforcing divisive racial hierarchies.16 Focusing on the deployment of the camera during a moment of acute political crisis, when both the significance and the scope of British governance in India were highly unstable, this article argues that photography’s unique formal features enabled colonials to picture a precarious imperial sovereignty as a viable mode of political administration. Tresidder’s photographic engagement with war was not confined to grisly spectacle or grief-stricken nostalgia. It emphasized the resurgent civil institutions of Cawnpore in an extraordinary, if ambivalent, attempt to inaugurate a society that was not defined exclusively by the hostile binary of Briton versus Indian that had come to reign during the insurrection. The levelling effect of photography—its capacity to draw heterogeneous peoples into what Christopher Pinney has termed a “common epistemological space”—meant that it could serve as a visual register for the elusive connective tissue of imperial subjecthood, effectively reifying a useful political abstraction.17 Ultimately, I argue, Tresidder’s investigation of photography as a medium of portraiture—its grammar of seriality (the arrangement of individual portraits) on the one hand, and its capacity to embody collectivity (the combination printing of multiple portraits) on the other—doubled as a kind of political thought experiment, one in which were probed the very limits of social cohesion under the British Raj.

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Citizens, Specimens, or Suspects?

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Who exactly were the Indian people? And how did they fit into imperial society? These, ultimately, were the questions posed to the British—and thus also to Dr John Nicholas Tresidder—by the staggering anti-colonial insurrection of 1857–59.

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In the build-up to the revolt, the British had failed to properly gauge the depth and breadth of Indian discontent over a myriad of issues: the history of aggressive British expansionism; the increasing number of colonial evangelicals seeking converts to Christianity among Hindus and Muslims; the cuts to material privileges for sepoys (soldiers) in the English East India Company army; and—the final spark—the introduction of the new greased cartridges for the sepoys’ rifles, widely rumoured to be coated in caste-breaking beef and pork fat. So, when some Indian sepoys on a parade ground in Meerut mutinied, killed their colonial officers, and marched on the ancient Mughal capital of Delhi to declare independence from imperial rule, the fact that they garnered significant support among fellow sepoy regiments and Indian civilians gave the British something to ponder. Evidently, far too little was actually known about the religious, cultural, and political sensitivities of the Indian people.18 The British simply hadn’t seen this coming.

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Goorung, Military Tribe, Nipal DOI Photographic practices were thus strategically deployed in the aftermath of the Rebellion to garner useful intelligence. Photography’s value to the knowledge–power nexus of empire was especially great because its indexicality lent empirical legitimacy to the anthropological projects that sought to collate valuable information on colonized peoples (fig. 5).19 The photographing of Indian castes and tribes was officially encouraged by the Viceroy of India, Charles Canning, with the diverse imagery received in response to his call being coordinated into an eight-volume collection of 468 albumen prints, The People of India: A Series of Photographic Illustrations, with Descriptive Letterpress, of the Races and Tribes of Hindustan (1868–75).20 While this was ostensibly a scientific project, any preoccupations with Indian ethnicity nevertheless took a back seat to pragmatic political concerns; as Pinney has written, there was a strong desire “to provide practical clues to the identification of groups which had so recently had the opportunity to demonstrate either their fierce hatred of British rule or their acquiescence”.21 Such photographic production—structured, ultimately, by military exigencies—was symptomatic of an imperial mindset that viewed Britain’s Indian territories as things that were kept by force.

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There were more idealistic perspectives on Britain’s power than this, however. When news of the Indian insurgency had first reached Britain in the summer of 1857, The Economist outlined a choice as to whether India was to be treated as “a Conquest”, in which the British were simply the “natural and indefeasible superiors” of their “Asiatic subjects”, or “whether we are to regard the Hindoos and the Mahomedans as our equal fellow citizens . . . ripe (or to be ripened) for British institutions”.22 The Economist’s alternative to the colonialism-as-conquest narrative was grounded in a liberal conception of the universal equivalence of Briton and Indian, an equivalence that could be “ripened” into being via the implementation of progressive reforms and increasingly inclusive modes of Anglo-Indian political organization.23 The “citizenship” that The Economist alludes to was not a firm legal category (the category of the citizen was not codified in British law until the twentieth century), but stood instead for a more nebulous liberal aspiration for imperial governance.24 So, when I speak below of how colonial photography worked to nourish Indian claims to citizenship, I am not speaking in strict statutory terms, but am engaging a tradition of thought that has viewed the category of the citizen with some elasticity. Indian citizenship emerged in the Victorian era not as a narrow function of law, but as a product of intersecting representational regimes—literary, legal, aesthetic, and so on—that together registered a liberal political desire for imperial citizenship through their attempts to portray Anglo-Indian civic agency.25

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Liberal ideals exerted considerable pressure on governmental thinking in India after the quelling of Rebellion. Overall, however, the post-war decades saw more insistence placed on Indians’ fundamental difference from the British.26 The fixity of such difference—encased as it supposedly was in the timeless categories of race and caste—worked to undermine liberalism’s progressive rhetoric. Repeatedly, Indians emerged in colonial photography as anthropological specimens, not imperial citizens. And yet while it is true that the camera undoubtedly lent significant support to ethnographic projects, like The People of India (1868–75), that sought to concretize a sense of Indian alterity, the formal properties inherent in photography as a medium—in particular the “serial dynamic of photographic likeness”—also functioned to elide Anglo-Indian difference in powerful, citizenship-crafting ways.27 The rest of this article is primarily concerned with how photography’s levelling visual grammar was mobilized by Tresidder in Cawnpore to forge a civil aesthetic that could bridge the Anglo-Indian divide—an effort informed, at least in part, by a politically liberal impulse towards post-war reconciliation.

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The fraught question of an inclusive imperial citizenship had been raised publicly by the Queen’s Proclamation of 1858, which formally announced the sovereignty of the British Crown (as opposed to the discredited East India Company) over a still-turbulent India, while promising the Indian people that “all shall alike enjoy the equal and impartial protection of the Law.”28 Such conciliatory political sentiments strongly inform Tresidder’s photographic vision. By surveying the British and Indian personnel of the Cawnpore civil establishment—those “Offices in Our Service” that the Proclamation had declared “freely and impartially” open to all colonial subjects “qualified by their education, ability, and integrity”—Tresidder locates imperial institutions as privileged sites for rehabilitating racial relations. Yet this liberal project was embarked upon at the very moment when ideals about Anglo-Indian political harmony had never appeared more drastically divorced from the vicious realities on the ground.

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What we find in Tresidder’s imagery, then, is a palliative political liberalism being cultivated through photographic form, but within a context of personal trauma and racial distrust that simultaneously worked to undermine those liberal ideals. We will see this aporia forcefully expressed in the album by the schizophrenic placements of photographs, arranged in ways that forge visual narratives that sometimes channel, and sometimes challenge, the notion of Indian citizenship. I therefore illustrate the images here as part of the pages they occupy rather than in isolation; the photographs were clearly not conceived of as discrete items, but as a cumulative photographic mapping of the familial, social, and political networks of a post-conflict colonial environment.

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Identity and War

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Who exactly was Dr John Nicholas Tresidder? And how did he fit into imperial society? These, too, were the questions posed to the amateur photographer by the upheavals of the Rebellion. Before I prioritize his album’s dealings with the mixed-race civil establishment in Cawnpore, it is worth sketching the particular position from which Tresidder and his lens confronted the issue of Indian citizenship.

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Tresidder had been the civil surgeon in Cawnpore prior to the 1857 insurgency. Following the death of his first wife there in December 1856, however, he had taken furlough from the following March and travelled to England, leaving behind him a seemingly tranquil India.29 He married his second wife, Emily Hooton, in Camberwell on 15 August 1857, just as news of the sepoys’ violent mutiny was filling British newspapers.30 The doctor who was chosen to replace Tresidder during his absence was Assistant Surgeon H. P. Harris.31 Along with his wife, child, and just about every other colonial in Cawnpore, Harris was killed during the siege and subsequent massacres of July.32 Tresidder and his new wife returned to Cawnpore while war was still raging. By the time they arrived, the British were once more in control of the station, but fighting continued to plague the area, and we have a record of Tresidder treating a soldier, Mowbray Thomson, for a recent bullet wound to the thigh in February 1858.33 The patient was one of the only British survivors of the summertime atrocities.

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The backdrop to the construction of the album was therefore the near-total annihilation of everyone Tresidder had known in Cawnpore prior to the war. The doctor had even once treated the rebel commander responsible for leading the insurgent assault, the infamous Nana Sahib. Tresidder’s post-war imagery, in combination with some purchased photographs by Beato, grappled with the devastation by surveying key sites from the conflict. Page twenty-four of the album, for example, displays two photographs of the riverside known by colonials as the “Slaughter Ghat”, where the British had been massacred while they were boarding boats that Nana Sahib had supposedly prepared for their safe passage up the Ganges to Allahabad (fig. 6). Such scenes’ meditation on the empty spaces where significant events had recently occurred is typical of war photography from India at this time; due to its inability to capture movement, the camera frequently confronted empty sites that no longer offered straightforward evidence of war’s events.34 Tresidder’s desperation to make his photographs bear adequate witness is made plain by the lengthy description given to his “Slaughter Ghat” scene: “Where [General] Wheeler’s Garrison were entrapped in the boats by the treachery of the Nana—This shows the Gorge down which they walked to the boats.” His engagement with Cawnpore’s war sites signalled a “deep exploration of photography as a history machine, a technology for the deposition and traces of what has been lost”.35

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Figure 6.
Dr John Nicholas Tresidder, Cawnpore, page 24 of The Tresidder Album (ca. 1858–64), albumen and salt-paper prints. Alkazi Collection of Photography


Digital image courtesy of The Alkazi Collection of Photography

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Yet the album’s spectres of violence are balanced by another form of imagery, one that re-stabilizes Tresidder’s presence in India by anchoring it in the reassuring features of the colonial everyday. The entire album is framed in personal terms: opening with portraits of Tresidder and both his late and current wife (fig. 7), it goes on to include ordinary colonial items such as “My favourite trotting cart”, a scene in the top centre of page six replete with the eponymous cart and an anonymous Indian attendant (fig. 8). Insistently intimate in tone—his wife is referred to informally as “Emmie”—the album constitutes a defiant reassertion of colonial domesticity on the very site that had become infamous for the violation of the colonial home when Indian men had entered Cawnpore’s Bibighar, “The House of the Ladies”, and slaughtered the women and children imprisoned inside.36 The extent to which these events continued to haunt Tresidder’s own domestic environment can be gauged by the fact that he gave the name “Cawnpore” to his retirement home in England.37 The album’s size is such that it could easily have served as a point of focus for more than one person at a time, enabling group viewings among family and friends in which the imagery’s broader political narratives could unfurl in relation to the very personal identifications between particular persons, places, and things.

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    Figure 7.


    Dr John Nicholas Tresidder and others, P. 1, page 1 of The Tresidder Album (ca. 1858–64), albumen and salt-paper prints. Alkazi Collection of Photography


    Digital image courtesy of The Alkazi Collection of Photography

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    Figure 8.


    Dr John Nicholas Tresidder, Personal, page 6 of The Tresidder Album (c. 1858–64), albumen and salt-paper prints. Alkazi Collection of Photography


    Digital image courtesy of The Alkazi Collection of Photography

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However, the rehabilitation of British domesticity is just one element of a much more ambitious photographic project: the virtual reconstruction of Anglo-Indian society. This project is made particularly explicit in the paired scenes of the war-ravaged Cawnpore church undergoing architectural reconstruction (fig. 9), but it also weaves its way through the assemblages of portraits that work to flesh out the local operations of a colonial state that had so recently been confronted with dissolution. The second page of the album (fig. 10) supplements Tresidder’s initial identification of himself as a husband with a portrait of him on the top right-hand side of the page that is captioned according to his public role, “J. N. Tresidder The Civil Surgeon—Cawnpore.” This professional persona is situated within a series of similar portraits that constitute the district’s medical network, most notably the Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals, Dr Dickson (whose pose is identical to Tresidder’s), as well as numerous Indian medical staff, including civil surgeon orderlies for the police and the hospital on the same page as Tresidder, and assistant surgeons and doctors on the following page.

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    Figure 9.


    Dr John Nicholas Tresidder, Cawnpore, page 20 of The Tresidder Album (ca. 1858–64), albumen and salt-paper prints. Alkazi Collection of Photography


    Digital image courtesy of The Alkazi Collection of Photography

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    Figure 10.


    Dr John Nicholas Tresidder, Cawnpore Civil Establishment, page two of The Tresidder Album (ca. 1858–64), albumen and salt-paper prints. Alkazi Collection of Photography


    Digital image courtesy of The Alkazi Collection of Photography

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Tresidder and his British colleague both stand in their portraits, while all but one of the Indian men sit, thereby establishing a precedence that is underpinned by the higher placement of the British on the page. Ultimately, though, Tresidder’s engagement with hierarchy and race is considerably more nuanced than this initial differentiation would suggest. Europeans do not always enjoy compositional prominence within the album, nor do they often distinguish themselves from Indians through pose. By and large, Tresidder’s imagery is unconcerned with formulating India in terms of difference via a fixation on religion, race, or caste. Instead, its treatment of Indians can be placed within a bourgeois framework for conceptualizing the colonial state.

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True, the album’s engagement with private life does tend to uphold Anglo-Indian distinctions. On page five, titled “J. N. T’s Family” (fig. 11), there is a collage produced from the individual portraits of Tresidder’s servants, combined to form a mass of Indian difference against which white imperial domesticity (personified here by the individual portraits of Tresidder’s children) can be established. But the album’s dealings with the public sphere seems to de-prioritize such racial segregations, with Cawnpore society emerging as a network of bourgeois institutions that find expression in the fairly undifferentiated individual portraits of the British and Indian personnel of the medical establishment, the judiciary, and the police.

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Figure 11.
Dr John Nicolas Tresidder, JNT’s Family, page five of The Tresidder Album (ca. 1858–64), albumen and salt-paper prints. Alkazi Collection of Photography


Digital image courtesy of The Alkazi Collection of Photography

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Citizens of the Studio

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In Cawnpore at this time, Tresidder would probably have been alone in possessing both the knowledge and the materials needed to produce photographs, meaning that his portrait sittings would likely have been memorable experiences for both their British and Indian participants. All of those photographed by Tresidder are placed in the same studio environment: they sit in the same chair (upon which, in some images, can be seen the initials “JNT”—John Nicholas Tresidder—carved into the arm), against the same white backdrop, and all adopt very similar poses.38 Each is defined in terms of their role within a professional matrix, as for example “Ahmad Ali Khan. Govt Pleader (Barrister) Cawnpore” on the middle left-hand side of page eleven (fig. 12). As such, Tresidder was mobilizing photography to portray Indian men in much the same way as it had been used in the mid- to late 1850s by William James Heaviside, the drawing master at the East India Company’s military seminary at Addiscombe, to emphasize the professionalism of young colonial cadets, encouraging a broad uniformity of pose individuated by captions detailing name and rank.39 The regimented poses are in both cases a means of becoming situated within the symbolic order of the imperial regime.

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Figure 12.
John Nicholas Tresidder, Cawnpore Civil Establishment, page 11 of The Tresidder Album (ca. 1858–64), albumen and salt-paper prints. Alkazi Collection of Photography


Digital image courtesy of The Alkazi Collection of Photography

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Notably, the standardization of setting and pose in Tresidder’s portraits of Cawnpore’s civil establishment recalls the bourgeois aesthetics of the carte-de-visite. Such was the homogeneity of these relatively cheap and small commercial photographic portraits that, as Lara Perry has written, “Virtually the entire class of objects, estimated in the tens of millions per year at its peak, can be described in a few sentences.”40 Poses included sitting or standing, often by a table or chair and with props such as books, pillars, and curtains. Their interchangeability has been theorized by scholars in terms of offering an index of “emerging notions of equality in citizenship for the bourgeois body politic that emerged in the nineteenth century”.41 Accordingly, by the 1870s, the carte-de-visite had become a popular format with the Indian elite, who used the portraits as symbols of their social mobility and status (fig. 13).42

Mr Nanabhoy B. Jeejeebhoy
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Figure 13.
Bourne and Shepherd, Mr Nanabhoy B. Jeejeebhoy, 1870, albumen print. Collection of the British Library, Photo 127 /(87)


Digital image courtesy of The British Library Board

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In her account of such photography’s involvement in crafting the identity of the Bengali middle classes, Malavika Karlekar has pointed out that, while some Indian patrons would have been self-consciously fashioning themselves in accordance with colonial poses, many were simply being “directed by an authoritarian photographic establishment used to peddling stereotypical models of ‘the professional’”.43 This, though, would have been the case with some British patrons as well; and indeed, whether or not the carte-de-visite constituted authentic acts of Indian self-expression, its democratic visual grammar still provided a counterweight to the aesthetics of difference that tended to characterize British imperialism, incorporating diverse racial groups under a common horizon.

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In other words, portraits such as these allowed Indians to emerge into what Judith Butler has termed the “realm of appearance” that was the precondition for making any proper claims to citizenship status:

there are extra-legal conditions for becoming a citizen, indeed, for even becoming a subject who can and does appear before the law. To appear before the law means that one has entered into the realm of appearance or that one is positioned to be entered there, which mean that there are norms that condition and orchestrate the subject who can and does appear.44

Citizenship is therefore not simply contingent upon the narrow—albeit significant—attainment of specific legal rights. Rather, it is the product of diffuse symbolic processes that function to represent a person or group as having a recognizable (and respectable) mode of political agency within society. The diverse “‘languages’ of citizenship” operative in nineteenth-century India have been explored by Sukanya Banerjee in Becoming Imperial Citizens: Indian in the Late-Victorian Empire (2010), a study that “situates citizenship not so much in the realm of statutory enactment as in cultural, imaginative, and affective fields that both engender it and are constituted by it”.45 Citizenship was registered by rhetorical as well as legal means, with imperial belonging secured through an engagement with, and appearance within, certain types of literary genres, images, monuments, and spaces. Photographic portraits, with their connotations of bourgeois respectability and professionalism, could thus foreshadow and feed into more wide-ranging liberal agendas.46

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The capacity for photographic portraiture to harmonize Anglo-Indian relations through a civil aesthetic was articulated more or less explicitly by George Birdwood in his introduction to Sorabji Jehangir’s collection of photographs of British and Indian men, Representative Men of India: A Collection of Memoirs, with Portraits, of Indian Princes, Nobles, Statesmen, Philanthropists, Officials, and Eminent Citizens (1889).47 The book contained a mixture of prominent British colonials, Indian royals, and their ministers, a group of men who, as Birdwood claimed, “however else they may be otherwise discriminated, are all connected together by the honour they share in common, of having, in their various spheres of Imperial and Civic duty, won the confidence and affection of the people of India.”48 The photographs provide an alternative to the anthropological mode of representing Indian figures, and instead conjure what Pinney has described as “a de-ethnicized elite at ease with itself”.49 Their publication in 1889 can be seen as symptomatic of the increasing currency that had been gained by the notion of a formally equal status for peoples across the empire by the late nineteenth century, even if the British continued to display acute ambivalence towards the extension of this imperial equality to non-white subjects.50

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Tresidder’s album is thus remarkable for positing a similarly liberal visual argument three decades prior to Jehangir’s photographic intervention in these debates. Indeed, the uniformity of portraits is considerably more striking in Tresidder’s work than in Jehangir’s, which incorporates numerous backdrops and a relative diversity of poses. Geoffrey Batchen has argued that the carte-de-visite’s interchangeability signalled to consumers that “class is a look that can be codified and imitated—it’s a mode of performance rather than an inherent quality.”51 Thus while some Indians look ill at ease in Tresidder’s studio (just as some Europeans do), the fact that others appear to adapt to the demands of the bourgeois portrait format with impeccable confidence (see the “1st native judge Cawnpore” on the top left-hand side of page eleven; fig. 12) forges a shared aesthetics of citizenship within the colonial system. It presents an image of Indian men not as conquered enemies who are irredeemably different from the British, but, to use The Economist’s words, as “equal fellow citizens” that are “ripe (or to be ripened) for British institutions”.

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How did these shared acts of posing for the camera operate within war-torn Cawnpore? I would suggest that the aesthetic harmonization of the Anglo-Indian professional was something that marked out Tresidder’s studio space as a site of post-conflict rapprochement. Tresidder’s encouragement of standardized poses pointed to a willingness to allow for the mutual performance of roles within the imperial apparatus to supplant ideas about essential differences between Britons and Indians, and it did so at a historical moment in which Anglo-Indian communities had never been more violently alienated from one another. Against a background of intense racial strife, Tresidder’s studio harboured a liberal cosmopolitanism that went against the ethos of exclusion that the war had instilled in colonial India generally, and, through the ban on “natives” entering the cherished local memorial garden, in Cawnpore very specifically.

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Tresidder’s photography thus addressed itself to the crisis of Anglo-Indian relations caused by the Rebellion. It positioned itself as a healing agent within a fragile peace process: the men who visited the studio would likely have been aware that both their British and Indian colleagues were sitting in equivalent circumstances, meaning that the space became one in which the social antagonisms of imperialism were temporarily suspended in favour of a “Photographic Civil Society”.52 If we recall that The Economist posited the logic of inclusion inherent to liberalism as an alternative to the view of India as a violent conquest, then Tresidder’s inclusive practice can be seen as a palliative photographic treatment of the community, working to soothe the wounds of a ruptured imperial body politic, and serving as a prophylaxis against future outbreaks by identifying a certain bourgeois professionalism as the cooperative endeavour of multi-racial imperial citizens.

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Probing the Limits of Cohesion

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We may appear to have come a long way from the genre of war photography, but Tresidder’s efforts to document a collegial Anglo-Indian society took place under the shadow of counterinsurgency. Even as the photographer’s studio was staging a parity of professionalism between British and Indian civil servants, Cawnpore itself was in the throes of a vicious political purge.

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One man invited to sit for Tresidder was Mowbray Thomson (whose bullet wound to the thigh the doctor had previously treated). Having survived the horrors of the wartime massacres, Thomson took up the post of Superintendent of Police in Cawnpore following the recapture of the garrison. He can be seen in both European and Oriental garb in his portraits at the top of page thirteen of the album, situated above his Indian sergeants (fig. 14). According to Thomson’s 1859 account of the war, his duties as a police officer “involved secret service, executions, raising native police, and the sale of plunder”.53 Policing doubled as counterinsurgency. In a favourable official report, it was noted that Thomson’s “Police have distinguished themselves during the year, by eradicating a gang of dacoits, and by the apprehension and destruction of notorious offenders . . . whose removal will, more than anything, tend to the suppression of outrage, and to the deterring of others from violent aggressions.”54 Executions were a daily occurrence under Thomson’s lauded reign; no Indian man was safe from this purge, no matter how embedded he was in the imperial apparatus. One Indian under Thomson’s command, who had previously been instrumental in the arrests of numerous suspected insurgents, was himself accused of betraying the British, brought to trial, and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.55 Even the Indian executioner responsible for hanging the Cawnpore rebels was ultimately suspended from his own gibbet.56

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Figure 14.
John Nicholas Tresidder, Cawnpore Civil Establishment, page 13 of The Tresidder Album (ca. 1858–64), albumen and salt-paper prints. Alkazi Collection of Photography


Digital image courtesy of The Alkazi Collection of Photography

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This climate of persecution was also registered by Tresidder, as condemned Indian men were brought to his studio in chains. It is not known whether or not the portraits of war prisoners were intended to serve as official administrative records of judicial proceedings, or merely as triumphal documents of imperial retribution (such uses were, of course, not mutually exclusive); convict photography was, however, by no means a routine practice in mid-nineteenth-century India, despite official discussion regarding its potential merits.57 Two photographs of the captive Gungoo Mehter at the top of page 49 (fig. 15) are thus remarkable in the way that they capture the downfall of a convicted war criminal, showing the thousand-yard stare of a man sentenced to death for his role in murdering British women and children. A slumped Mehter holds his restraints in his hands; they trail down beneath the frame of the image, presumably tied to Mehter’s feet, as they are in a companion portrait on the same page showing Mummoo Khan, a “Paramour of the Queen of Oude”, who was condemned to “transportation for life for [being] accessory to murder and a leader of Rebellion in 1857”. Chains aside, these images are both extremely familiar, strongly recalling those of the British and Indian professionals who were also asked to sit for Tresidder on this same chair, in this same space—such alternative registers of the studio’s operations providing a striking demonstration of Allan Sekula’s maxim that “every proper portrait has its lurking, objectifying inverse in the files of the police.”58

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Figure 15.
Dr John Nicholas Tresidder, Cawnpore, page 49 of The Tresidder Album (ca. 1858–64), albumen and salt-paper prints. Alkazi Collection of Photography


Digital image courtesy of The Alkazi Collection of Photography

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To sit in Tresidder’s chair and confront his lens was thus to be situated within a violently resurgent imperial order. The photographer’s studio was the stage for either what might be termed a “soft” sovereignty—the liberal extension of some kind of shared citizen-status within the colonial system—or a “hard” sovereignty, in which individuals like Gungoo Mehter were identified as persons subject to state-sanctioned imprisonment and death. The studio served a dual purpose: functioning “both honorifically and repressively”,59 it anointed some Indians as professionals with a stake in the imperial system, while identifying others as what Giorgio Agamben has termed “bare life”, wholly exposed to a pitiless imperial bio-power.60 Yet these two currents of the counterinsurgent order in Cawnpore could not be neatly separated (at least not in visual terms): the portraits of Indian prisoners implicate the poses of imperial professionalism as themselves embodiments of a certain disciplinary subjection, so that the spectres of violence and exclusion haunt the inclusive respectability that we see in the portraits of civil society.61

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However, unlike the portraits that have been examined so far, the captive figure of Mehter was not identified in the album merely with a laconic caption stating his name and occupation. Instead, the portrait was incorporated into a discourse of crime and punishment, conspicuously distanced from the collegial Anglo-Indian portraits through a detailed account of Mehter’s alleged role in the Cawnpore massacres:

Gungoo Mehter—Tried at Cawnpore for hacking to death with swords the Futtehgarh fugitives taken by the Nana [Sahib]—also for Hacking the women & children at the Slaughter house Cawnpore on 15th July 1857 and for throwing the living wounded with the dying and the dead together into the Well—also for cutting off the arms, noses, and ears, of 9 of Havelock’s spies—seven of whom died in consequence—The two living mutilated men were part of the evidence against him—Convicted and Hanged at Cawnpore 8th Sept / 59.62
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Tresidder thus deployed lengthy, detail-laden text to anchor Mehter’s portrait in a juridical context. But on an aesthetic level, it was by no means dissimilar from common poses of harmonious imperial professionalism. Once placed in front of the photographer’s lens, much-reviled Indian rebels suddenly inhabited an arena that functioned to neutralize distinctions between “good” Indians and “bad” Indians—and even to some extent between colonizer and colonized—because of a shared visual language of pose and placement. The homogenizing visual grammar of photography therefore dissolved important markers of social difference.

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To a certain extent, these visual slippages between portraits of convicts and portraits of colleagues appear to have been accepted by Tresidder, who could after all have placed the prisoners in an alternative manner (standing, for instance), but chose to abide by his standard portrait conventions and merely allow for the presence of visible restraints and the addition of captions to recuperate relevant political distinctions. Yet, in a remarkable double-page spread in the album (fig. 16), certain anxieties about such portraiture’s slipperiness do seem to emerge. The ability—or lack thereof—to register political distinctions in the fraught atmosphere of Cawnpore was framed by Tresidder in highly dramatic terms, as a matter of life and death. On the top right-hand side of the spread (page 48) is a photograph of an elderly Islamic cleric, who during the war had issued a decree stating it was morally right for Muslims to kill Christians. Again, this portrait mimics the bourgeois tone of the poses seen earlier, as do the two portraits beneath it: one of an Indian man called Nana Narain Rao, the other of his son. Rao had helped the British by passing them information about the notorious insurgent commander, Nana Sahib, but he was nevertheless suspected as being “one of those double-dyed traitors who hang on the skirts of success and are driven backwards and forwards by every gust of fortune”.63 The inclusion of his portrait (an Indian man whose allegiance to the British was uncertain) underneath the portrait of the cleric (whose antipathy to the British was known) speaks to the mortal difficulty of identifying people as friends or enemies in the murky context of counterinsurgency—a difficulty that was visually articulated by a portrait format in which diversely aligned peoples were cast in more or less equivalent terms.

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Figure 16.
Dr John Nicholas Tresidder, Cawnpore, pages 47–48 of The Tresidder Album (ca. 1858–64), albumen and salt-paper prints. Alkazi Collection of Photography


Digital image courtesy of The Alkazi Collection of Photography

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While seemingly content to allow for Indian men to occupy a visual (although not textual) space that dramatized ambiguities of allegiance, Tresidder at the same time sought to develop a separate photographic mode through which to assert the unambiguously discernible unity of the British community. To do so, he substantially reworked his photographs in a manner that recuperated the very racial demarcations that his portraits of civil servants had so diplomatically worked to elide.  Beneath the images of Rao and the insurgent cleric we find an assemblage of portraits entitled “Cawnpore friends”. This is a photomontage of the white members of the community, whose heads have been cut from their bodies and arranged to create a composite negative, from which Tresidder secured a combination print.64 Strikingly, the print is placed as if under siege by the enemy cleric and the possibly disloyal Indian men. Even the “loyal native of Cawnpore” on the left-hand side of the spread is cast adrift from colonials; his unreconstructed portrait resides outside of the composite image of Europeans, situated in visual relation to the insurgent preacher and the ambiguously aligned figure of Rao. Indians are thereby partitioned into friends and enemies according to imperial notions of “loyalty”—but the colonial community is seen as formally distinct from both of these Indian categories.

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The traumatic atmosphere of crime and punishment, paranoia and suspicion, which reigned in Cawnpore following the atrocities of 1857 thus ultimately spurred Tresidder along new inventive trajectories of portraiture production. The Caucasian unity embodied by the carefully orchestrated composite print is founded on a jointly Christian sense of loss, encapsulated by the two-part panorama, “North burial ground—Cawnpore”, which unfolds to span the double-page spread. In this way the death of Europeans is made to literally hang over the post-conflict composition of Anglo-Indian relations in Cawnpore, forming the grisly backdrop to—and the potential consequence of—any colonial difficulties in properly distinguishing between friends and enemies in India. Under this bleakly divisive symbol of imperial mourning, Tresidder’s photographic reconstruction of Cawnpore undergoes a profound shift in political emphasis, moving from a visual ordering of Anglo-Indian relations that was based on mutual participation in civic institutions, to an organization of the community based on formally segregated groups, in which “friends” are distinguishable above all by their nationality. The seriality of the photographic portrait thus opened up the opportunity to envision post-war Anglo-Indian society as operating in harmonious accordance with liberal ideals of formal equality, but the dedifferentiation involved in this manner of picturing British India also carried the threatening implication that allies and enemies were not always visually apparent. Such disturbing murkiness seemed to call for the reinscription of distinct social boundaries, and thus a photographic mode that worked to emphasize the sanctity of race, still the clearest outward marker of political identity within the imperial imaginary.

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Conclusion

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Over and above issues regarding the military logistics of maintaining power in South Asia, the question raised by the 1857 insurrection was this: in the aftermath of extraordinary inter-racial violence, could British India still be imagined as a workable political entity? The answer given by Tresidder’s photography was that, yes, such an entity could be pictured , but the visual grammar of photography articulated a colonial society that was perhaps a little too coherent, eliding cherished imperial distinctions. The formal possibilities of photography were thus experimented with by Tresidder in ways that paradoxically crystallized: firstly, a comforting sense of Anglo-Indian harmony within the institutions of the civil establishment, as formal equality was compellingly rendered by the standardized photographic portrait; and secondly, a faith in the inviolate nature of the white community against an unstable Indian “loyalty,” as the standardized portrait was segmented and spliced until it could satisfy the imperial craving for racial distinction. In this double movement, the imagery serves as a visual register for one of the key ideological antagonisms of the post-1857 empire in India, “the effort to preserve elements of an ongoing liberalism within a conception of Indian ‘difference’”.65

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Tresidder’s studio and album thus offered cathartic spaces where incompatible desires could be satisfied. The spectre of violent insurgency created an urgent need to stabilize Anglo-Indian society, but it also confronted colonials with their limited capacity to sustain a coherently liberal, socially rehabilitative mode of political and aesthetic praxis. Homi K. Bhabha has identified ambivalence of this sort as a constitutive feature of political liberalism as it is expressed in the colonial context, wherein the ability for the colonized Other to “mimic” the habits of Europe does not validate the imperial mission so much as it causes deep anxiety in the colonizer, who struggles to maintain a stable sense of self, or a distinct aura of authority, that can legitimize their dominance over subject peoples.66 Photography in particular was a potent cause of this sort of anxiety, since its own formal logic tended to raise troubling questions about the relative status of Briton and Indian under the imperial regime. Far from providing only a superficial visual appraisal of warfare’s effects, the camera allowed for a revelatory probing of political liberalism’s (im)possibilities in post-conflict colonial society.

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Acknowledgements

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Many thanks to Sarah Victoria Turner, Martina Droth, Natasha Eaton, Jason Edwards, and Elizabeth Prettejohn for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper, as well as to the two anonymous readers, whose feedback was highly beneficial. Many thanks also to the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts in New Delhi for their generous help during my stay in Delhi. My thanks also go to the AHRC, the INTACH UK Trust and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art for funding different stages of this research.

This article was selected through the open call for submissions for Issue 4. An abridged version of this article was presented at the conference “Photography and Britishness”, held at the Yale Center for British Art on 4–5 November 2016. The talk can be accessed in the Conference Proceedings in this issue of British Art Studies.” 

About the author

  • Sean Willcock Picture

    Sean Willcock is a Lecturer for the Yale in London programme and Leverhulme Fellow at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Footnotes

  1. See, for instance, Mary Warner Marien, Photography: A Cultural History (London: Laurence King, 2006), 117–18.

    1
  2. See Ulrich Keller, “‘The Valley of the Shadow of Death’: The Triumph of Photography”, in The Ultimate Spectacle: A Visual History of the Crimean War (New York and Abingdon: Routledge, 2013), 119–72.

    2
  3. The earliest examples of war photography include an anonymous American photographer operating in Mexico during the Mexican–American (1846–48); the Scottish amateur photographer John McCosh operating in Burma during the Second Anglo-Burmese War (1852–53); and the English commercial photographer Roger Fenton working in the Baltic during the Crimean War (1853–56).

    3
  4. Susie Linfield, The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2010), 22. Linfield provides an excellent account of prevailing scholarly trends on war photography in the first chapter of this book, “A Little History of Photography Criticism; or, Why Do Photography Critics Hate Photography?”.

    4
  5. Zahid R. Chaudhary, Afterimage of Empire: Photography in Nineteenth-Century India (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2012), 90.

    5
  6. For a detailed account of the Cawnpore siege and massacre, see Andrew Ward, Our Bones Are Scattered: The Cawnpore Massacres and the Indian Mutiny of 1857 (London: John Murray, 2004).

    6
  7. George Dodd, The History of the Indian Revolt and of the Expeditions to Persia, China, and Japan, 1856–7–8, with Maps, Plans, and Wood Engravings (London: W. & R. Chambers, 1859), 144.

    7
  8. Thomas Stevens, Around the World on A Bicycle, Vol. 2: From Teheran to Yokohama (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1889), 340.

    8
  9. See Sean Willcock, “Aesthetic Bodies: Posing on Sites of Violence in India, c. 1857–1900”, History of Photography 39, no. 2 (2015): 142–59.

    9
  10. Manu Goswami, “‘Englishness’ on the Imperial Circuit: Mutiny Tours in Colonial South Asia”, Journal of Historical Sociology 9, no. 1 (March 1996): 54.

    10
  11. Ian Baucom, Out of Place: Englishness, Empire, and the Locations of Identity (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1999), 107.

    11
  12. See Gary D. Sampson, “Unmasking the Colonial Picturesque: Samuel Bourne’s Photographs of Barrackpore Park”, in Colonialist Photography: Imag(in)ing Race and Place, ed. Eleanor M. Hight and Gary D. Sampson (New York and Abingdon: Routledge, 2004), 84–106; and Willcock, “Aesthetic Bodies”.

    12
  13. Sometimes spelled “Tressider”. The captions in the album read “Tresidder”, a spelling that I have had confirmed in conversation with Robert Haskins, one of Tresidder’s descendants, and a family historian.

    13
  14. The Tresidder Album is now held along with the doctor’s medical diary in the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, New Delhi.

    14
  15. By confronting the traumas of warfare through the prism of domestic and civil forms of photography, the Tresidder Album can be compared to the “Lucknow Album” (1856–57) of the Indian photographer Ahmad Ali Khan. Khan’s album was filled with portraits of both Indian and colonial residents of prewar Lucknow. Following the capture of Lucknow in March 1857, the album was discovered by the British and began to circulate in colonial networks. It became a work of imperial mourning, as new meanings constellated around portraits of those lost in recent violence. See Alison Blunt, “Home and Empire: Photographs of British Families in the Lucknow Album, 1856–57”, in Picturing Place: Photography and the Geographical Imagination, ed. Joan Schwartz and James Ryan (New York: I. B. Tauris, 2003), 243–60.

    15
  16. Forging a shared political framework in British India was a key theme of Queen Victoria’s Proclamation to India, issued in response to the Indian Rebellion on 1 November 1858: “We hold ourselves bound to the Natives of Our Indian Territories by the same obligations of Duty which bind Us to all Our other Subjects . . . all shall alike enjoy the equal and impartial protection of the Law.” Copies of the Proclamation of the King, Emperor of India, to the Princes and Peoples of India, of the 2nd day of November 1908, and the Proclamation of the late Queen Victoria of the 1st day of November 1858, to the Princes, Chiefs, and People of India (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode Ltd, 1908), 2.

    16
  17. Christopher Pinney, “Seven Theses on Photography”, Thesis Eleven 113, no. 1 (2012): 141–56.

    17
  18. Nicholas B. Dirks, Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton Univ. Press, 2001), 149.

    18
  19. See John Falconer, “‘A Pure Labour of Love’: A Publishing History of The People of India”, in Colonialist Photography, ed. Hight and Sampson, 51–83.

    19
  20. Sir John William Kaye and John Forbes Watson, The People of India: A Series of Photographic Illustrations, with Descriptive Letterpress, of the Races and Tribes of Hindustan, 8 vols. (London: India Museum, 1868–75).

    20
  21. Christopher Pinney, Camera Indica: The Social Life of Indian Photographs (London: Reaktion Books, 1997), 34.

    21
  22. The Economist 15 (26 Sept. 1857): 1062. Emphasis in original.

    22
  23. For an account of the ideology of liberalism in British India, see Thomas R. Metcalf, The New Cambridge History of India, Vol. 3.4: Ideologies of the Raj (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994).

    23
  24. Sukanya Banerjee, Becoming Imperial Citizens: Indians in the Late-Victorian Empire (Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press, 2010), 23.

    24
  25. See Banerjee, Becoming Imperial Citizens.

    25
  26. Metcalf, Ideologies of the Raj, 59.

    26
  27. See Lara Perry, “The Carte de Visite in the 1860s and the Serial Dynamic of Photographic Likeness”, Art History 35, no. 4 (Sept. 2012): 728–49.

    27
  28. Quoted in Banerjee, Becoming Imperial Citizens, 22.

    28
  29. Allens Indian Mail, vol. XIV, Jan.–Dec.1856 (London: W. H. Allen and Co., 1856), 66.

    29
  30. Andrew Winter, ed., The British Medical Journal, Being the Journal of the British Medical Association (London: Thomas John Honeyman, 1857), 724.

    30
  31. Allens Indian Mail, vol. XV, Jan.–Dec. 1857 (London: W. H. Allen and Co., 1857), 304 (19 May 1857).

    31
  32. Sir Edward Arthur Henry Blunt, List of Inscriptions on Christian Tombs and Tablets of Historical Interest in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh (Allahabad: W. C. Abel, Govt. Press, 1911), 114.

    32
  33. Mowbray Thomson, The Story of Cawnpore (London: Richard Bentley, 1859), 252.

    33
  34. Christopher Pinney, The Coming of Photography in India (London: British Library, 2008), 122–23.

    34
  35. Pinney, Coming of Photography in India, 122.

    35
  36. For an account of the importance of the figure of the British woman within accounts of the Uprising, see Jane Robinson, Angels of Albion: Women of the Indian Mutiny (London: Viking Press, 1996).

    36
  37. Thank you to Robert Haskins, one of Tresidder’s descendants and a family historian, for this information.

    37
  38. These initials can be seen in the portrait of “Native Doctor Jail Hospital—Cawnpore” on page nine of the album.

    38
  39. William James Heaviside, Photograph Album of William James Heaviside, Bengal Engineers, British Library, IOR PDP/Photo 42.

    39
  40. Perry, “Carte de Visite in the 1860s”, 729.

    40
  41. Perry, “Carte de Visite in the 1860s”, 730. See also, Geoffrey Batchen, “Dreams of Ordinary Life: Carte-de-Visite and the Bourgeois Imagination”, in Photography: Theoretical Snapshots, ed. J. J. Long, Andrea Noble, and Edward Welch (Oxford and New York: Routledge, 2009), 80–97.

    41
  42. Malavika Karlekar, Re-visioning the Past: Early Photography in Bengal, 1875–1915 (Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2005), 71.

    42
  43. Karlekar, Re-visioning the Past, 86.

    43
  44. Judith Butler, Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? (London: Verso, 2009), 140.

    44
  45. Banerjee, Becoming Imperial Citizens, 5.

    45
  46. There is a growing body of literature on photographic portraiture, race, and citizenship. See, for instance, Liam Buckley, “Studio Photography and the Aesthetics of Citizenship in The Gambia, West Africa”, in Sensible Objects: Colonialism, Museums and Material Culture, ed. Elizabeth Edwards, Chris Gosden, and Ruth B. Phillips (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2006), 61–86; Lily Cho, “Intimacy Among Strangers: Anticipating Citizenship in Chinese Head Tax Photographs”, Interventions 15, no. 1 (2013): 10–23; and Lorena Rizzo, “Visual Aperture: Bureaucratic Systems of Identification, Photography and Personhood in Colonial Southern Africa”, History of Photography 37, no. 3 (2013): 263–82.

    46
  47. Sorabji Jehangir, Representative Men of India: A Collection of Memoirs, with Portraits, of Indian Princes, Nobles, Statesmen, Philanthropists, Officials, and Eminent Citizens (London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1889).

    47
  48. Jehangir, Representative Men of India, v.

    48
  49. Pinney, Camera Indica, 97.

    49
  50. Banerjee, Becoming Imperial Citizens, 23.

    50
  51. Batchen, “Dreams of Ordinary Life”, 87.

    51
  52. Pinney, Coming of Photography in India, 114.

    52
  53. Thomson, Story of Cawnpore, 206.

    53
  54. Report of Police Administration in the North Western Provinces, for 1861 (Allahabad: Government Press, 1862), 30.

    54
  55. Thomson, Story of Cawnpore, 247–48.

    55
  56. Thomson, Story of Cawnpore, 246.

    56
  57. Pinney, Coming of Photography in India, 63.

    57
  58. Allan Sekula, “The Body and the Archive”, October 39 (Winter 1986): 7.

    58
  59. Sekula, “Body and the Archive”, 6. Emphasis in original.

    59
  60. See Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1998).

    60
  61. Jeannene M. Przyblyski, “Revolution at a Standstill: Photography and the Paris Commune of 1871”, Yale French Studies 101 (2001): 65.

    61
  62. Tresidder Album, 49.

    62
  63. John William Kaye, A History of the Sepoy War in India, 1857–58, Vol. 2 (London: W. H. Allen, 1870), 393.

    63
  64. Earlier in the album, Tresidder had executed a similar combination print using the portraits of his Indian domestic servants, whose Indianness was contained in a single collage, effectively segregated from the surrounding photographs of white colonial domesticity (fig. 11).

    64
  65. Metcalf, Ideologies of the Raj, 49.

    65
  66. For an account of the ambivalence of colonial discourse, see Homi K. Bhabha, “Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse”, October 28, Discipleship: A Special Issue on Psychoanalysis (Spring 1984): 125–33.

    66

Bibliography

Agamben, Giorgio. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1998.

Allens Indian Mail. Vol. XIV, Jan.–Dec.1856. London: W. H. Allen and Co., 1856.

Allens Indian Mail. Vol. XV, Jan.–Dec. 1857. London: W. H. Allen and Co., 1857.

Baucom, Ian. Out of Place: Englishness, Empire, and the Locations of Identity. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1999.

Banerjee, Sukanya. Becoming Imperial Citizens: Indians in the Late-Victorian Empire. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press, 2010.

Batchen, Geoffrey. “Dreams of Ordinary Life: Carte-de-Visite and the Bourgeois Imagination.” In Photography: Theoretical Snapshots. Ed. J. J. Long, Andrea Noble, and Edward Welch. Oxford and New York: Routledge, 2009, 80–97.

Bhabha, Homi K. “Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse.” October 28, Discipleship: A Special Issue on Psychoanalysis (Spring 1984): 125–33.

Blunt, Alison. “Home and Empire: Photographs of British Families in the Lucknow Album, 1856–57.” In Picturing Place: Photography and the Geographical Imagination. Ed. Joan Schwartz and James Ryan. New York: I. B. Tauris, 2003, 243–60.

Blunt, Sir Edward Arthur Henry. List of Inscriptions on Christian Tombs and Tablets of Historical Interest in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. Allahabad: W. C. Abel, Govt. Press, 1911.

Buckley, Liam. “Studio Photography and the Aesthetics of Citizenship in The Gambia, West Africa.” In Sensible Objects: Colonialism, Museums and Material Culture. Ed. Elizabeth Edwards, Chris Gosden, and Ruth B. Phillips. Oxford and New York: Berg, 2006, 61–86.

Butler, Judith. Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? London: Verso, 2009.

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Cho, Lily. “Intimacy Among Strangers: Anticipating Citizenship in Chinese Head Tax Photographs.” Interventions 15, no. 1 (2013): 10–23.

Copies of the Proclamation of the King, Emperor of India, to the Princes and Peoples of India, of the 2nd day of November 1908, and the Proclamation of the late Queen Victoria of the 1st day of November 1858, to the Princes, Chiefs, and People of India. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode Ltd, 1908.

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Jehangir, Sorabji. Representative Men of India: A Collection of Memoirs, with Portraits, of Indian Princes, Nobles, Statesmen, Philanthropists, Officials, and Eminent Citizens. London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1889.

Karlekar, Malavika. Re-visioning the Past: Early Photography in Bengal, 1875–1915. Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2005.

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Kaye, Sir John William, and John Forbes Watson. The People of India: A Series of Photographic Illustrations, with Descriptive Letterpress, of the Races and Tribes of Hindustan. 8 vols. London: India Museum, 1868–75.

Keller, Ulrich. The Ultimate Spectacle: A Visual History of the Crimean War. New York and Abingdon: Routledge, 2013.

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Imprint

Author
Sean Willcock
Date
28 November 2016
Category
Article
Review status
Peer Reviewed (Double, Blind)
Licence
CC BY-NC International 4.0
Downloads
PDF format
Article DOI
https://doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-04/swilcock
Cite as
Sean Willcock, "Insurgent Citizenship: Dr John Nicholas Tresidder's Photographs of War and Peace in British India", British Art Studies, Issue 4, https://doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-04/swilcock