ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Archiving Visual History

Preliminary Approaches and Methods from the North East

Systematic archiving of visual media, which offers a visible feel of people and places, can help understand and appreciate diverse communities.

The researchers thank Ahmad Hossain and the Arcadia Trust-funded Modern Endangered Archives Program, University of California, Los Angeles.

In the heart of Shillong’s famous Police Bazar is an inno­cuous photo studio, Karuz Photographers, owned and operated by the octogenarian, Ahmad Hossain. These times of digital and mobile photography may well make photo studios such as Karuz defunct, yet this studio hides in it visual histories of North East India’s eight states, chronicled passionately by Hossain over a career spanning four decades. Hailing from a well-to-do family, Hossain’s vast photographic collection—developed between the 1960s and the early 2000s—offers a rare and detailed insight into the social and cultural lifeworlds as well as the historical changes that communities of the North East have undergone since India’s independence. Though Hossain’s photography has been commissioned and displayed by a number of public agencies over the years, today, most of his nearly 15,000 photographs are stored privately, lacking an institutional home and the care befitting endangered historical material. For us, a group of visual media practitioner–researchers, documenting, preserving, and making accessible Hossain’s photographic collection is one way to advance historically sensitive understandings of the landscapes and peoples of the North East, thus correcting the long-standing under- and mis-representations of the region.

Photographer Ahmad Hossain and researcher Raja Das developing photographic inventory in Shillong (2021). Credit: Pallab Bharali


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Updated On : 5th May, 2022
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