History of Art


Diva Gujral

PhD supervisor: Rose Marie San Juan
Working title for PhD: 'Picturing non-alignment: Photography, nation, identity in India, c. 1950-1975'

I am a scholar of South Asian photography, postcolonial theory, third world solidarity networks and the global cold war. My thesis examines practices of modernist photography and film-making that developed in India in the early decades of its independence, specifically observing the articulation of temporality/modernity and produced in the wake of postcolonial self-assertion. I foreground the adoption of the camera against a larger network of artistic and cultural exchanges produced in the context of the nation’s early commitment to global anti-colonial interventionism, considering photography’s varied mobilisation in the contexts of nation-building, international diplomacy and in art practice as itself enacting a conclusive non-alignment. My emphasis is on photographic/filmic projects such as the exhibitions and films by the Films Division of India that attempted to articulate definitive ‘universalisms’ of the Indian experience; photographs taken at sites of state-led infrastructural modernism (planned modernist cities and steel towns); and experimental photomontages made by photographers at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Baroda. 


  • Photography in India: A Visual History from the 1850s to the Present, co-authored with Nathaniel Gaskell, London: Prestel, 2019.
  • “Painters with a Camera (1968/69): In search of the Indian photography exhibition”. Object 20, 2019.

Conference papers and presentations: 

  • ‘Amputation Nation: Bodies, Cuts, Frames in the photographic production of modern India’. Asian Modernisms, University College London Institute for Advanced Studies, May 2019.
  • ‘Photography &’. Fast Forward 2: Women in Photography International Network Research Workshop at Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, February 2019.
  • Respondent, ‘Aesthetics of Expropriation: Abstraction in Fazal Sheikh’s Desert Bloom’ presented by Zahid R. Chaudhary at Institute for Advanced Studies, University College London, December 2018.
  • Panel discussant, ‘Painters with a Camera (1968/69): In search of the Indian photography exhibition’. South Asia Early Career Researchers’ Workshop, University College London, June 2018. 

Media appearances/outreach work: