History of Art


Mallika Leuzinger


I graduated from Cambridge University with a BA in History in 2013, and MPhil in Multi-Disclipinary Gender Studies in 2014. Before beginning my PhD, I worked on a project to document aspects of Santal culture for the National Crafts Museum in New Delhi and Museum Rietberg in Zürich, and at the Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland.


Dwelling in Photography: Amateur and Domestic Practices in South Asia

My project explores photography in South Asia as practiced by Cochin-based Haleema Hashim (b.1928-2017) and the Bengali twin sisters Manobina Roy (1919-2001) and Debalina Majumdar (1919-2012). Their photography encompassed domestic activities and objects, children, brides in the community, and strangers and scenes encountered on travels, for instance to Britain and the Soviet Union in 1959-60. It circulated within their households, regional, national and international amateur photography clubs and exhibitions, and illustrated magazines; but often also slipped through the cracks of established networks.

My research considers the unfolding of their photography over time, and the camera as an object of and catalyst for intimacy. It also asks how these are reconfigured by family memories and custodian projects, as well as wider artistic, institutional and social-entrepreneurial investments in the "intimate archive", and in photography as a tool for ("women's") empowerment. As such, my project is less a documentation of "women photographers" and more an examination of our attachments to certain figurations of nationalism, gender, photography and archives.

Research interests

South Asian history and visual/material culture, objects, the camera, affect, gender, phenomenology, family, intimacy, the neutral and the slight, public/private, domesticity, amateurism, archives, ownership and guardianship of images, digitisation, photography-based community and citizenship projects.


"The Intimate Contract of Photography: Haleema Hashim's Practice and its Afterlives", Object (2017) - http://ojs.lib.ucl.ac.uk/index.php/OBJ/article/view/1817

"From Dumka to New Delhi: Conversations", in Johannes Beltz, Marie-Eve Celio-Scheurer and Ruchira Ghose (eds), Cadence and Counterpoint: Documenting Santal Musical Traditions, Niyogi Books (2015)

Conference Papers

'The Gift of the Camera: Photography Projects and Women’s Empowerment in South Asia at Interrogative Practices: Documenting human rights in South Asia' at Loughborough University, London, 15 January 2019.

Response to Zahid Chaudhury's paper 'Aesthetics of Expropriation: Abstraction in Fazal Sheikh’s Desert Bloom’ at Institute for Advanced Studies, UCL, 6 December 2018.

'A Turn to the Intimate: Domestic and Amateur Photography in India' at European Association for South Asian Studies Conference, Paris, 25 July 2018.

'This Little Art: The Amateur Photographic Encounters of Debalina Majumdar and Manobina Roy' at South Asia Early Career Researchers' Workshop, UCL, 8 June 2018.

'"You shouldn't show that photograph!" - Reconsidering Domestic and Amateur Photography in India' at Royal Anthropological Institute's 'Art, Materiality and Representation' Conference, British Museum/SOAS, 3 June 2018'.

'"What shall I do without my camera?': Amateur Photography in and beyond Twentieth-Century India' at British Association of South Asian Studies Conference, Exeter University, 19 April 2018.

'Dwelling in Photography: Haleema Hashim's practice and its afterlife' at Fast Forward: Women in Photography: Lithuanian Edition, National Gallery of Arts, Vilnius, 4 November 2017.

'Photography's Families: Researching 20th-Century Domestic and Amateur Practices in 21st Century India' at Life/Work[shop], Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL, February 2017.

'At Home in Photography: (Researching) Women Photographing in Twentieth-Century India' at 3BHK Exhibition, Cochin, December 2016.

'The Intimate Contract of Photography: Haleema Hashim's Practice and its Archival Afterlives' at CMCI PhD Conference: (In)Visible Cultures, King's College London, June 2016 and at the Postgraduate Researchers' Workshop, UCL Centre for the Study of South Asia and Indian Ocean World, June 2016.

'The Intimate Contract of Photography: A Reading of Images from the Archive of Haleema Hashim', at School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester, April 2016.

'Imperial Ceremonies and Social Life' (presentation of short film from amateur footage archived at the Centre of South Asian Studies, Cambridge) at Visual Anthropology and Contemporary South Asian History, University of Cambridge, April 2014.


TA for Histories of Photography with Dr. Stephanie Schwartz (Autumn term, 2017)

TA for History of European Art: Renaissance to Contemporary with Dr. Sarah E James (Spring Term, 2017)

TA for Methodologies of Art History with Prof Rose Marie San Juan (Autumn term, 2015)

Other roles

Editor of Object- Graduate Research and Reviews in the History of Art with Laura Scalabrella Spada, 2018