Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology, University of Texas / Arlington

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2002
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Texas / Arlington
Routes of Caricature: Mr. Punch and Cartoon in Colonial India

I propose to examine the local and transnational routes of graphic satire in colonial India through a comparative focus on illustrated Urdu and Hindi newspapers, and the British ‘Punch’. With the use of lithography and the mechanization of the popular press, colonial India saw a wide production of illustrated vernacular newspapers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Caricatures and cartoons were an important part of these newspapers and became integral to vernacular journalism. ‘Shriman Punch’, and ‘Subedar Major Punch’ were, for example, the central characters articulating political and social critique in the newspaper cartoons. Hunch-backed, hook-nosed, and dwarfish in form, these caricatured spokesmen were local incarnations of Mr. Punch of the British humor periodical, ‘Punch’ or ‘The London Charivari’ (London, 1841). My principal goals are threefold: (i) to explore how the visual vocabulary of graphic satire inflected and recast public debates in the vernacular press (ii) to track the interaction between satirizing form, locality, and empire through a comparison of the British Mr. Punch and his local versions in colonial India; and (iii) to examine the multiple responses to graphic satire recorded in press reviews, court cases, and colonial legislations of proscription. My inter disciplinary approach will not only highlight a neglected archive of public culture in colonial India, but more significantly, it will contribute to the scholarship on culture, communication, and the formation of colonial knowledge.