Debashish Banerji

Consciousness • Art History • Writing



Current Projects







Techno-Capitalism and Posthuman Destinies I
Some relections on the issue of techno-capitalism and post-human futures. This is a first fragment highlighting Moishe Postone's commentaries on the late writings of Marx.

Techno-Capitalism and Posthuman Destinies II
A continuation of the reflections on Techno-Capitalism as the epistemic regime of modernity and posible post-human futures at the eschatological cusp of history. Here the alignment of Marx and Hegel with the Enlightenment vision/teleology is contemplated and questions asked regarding a comparative alignment with the Neo-Vedantic teleology (if it can be called that) of Sri Aurobindo.

Techno-Capitalism and Posthuman Destinies III
The concluding section on Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies continues its second installment's reflections on the Omniscience, Omnipotence and Omnipresence presented to us as the emerging destiny of post-Enlightenment Modernity and compares this destination with its appropriation and supercession in the Neo-Vedantic teleology of Sri Aurobindo. What are the differences, dangers and promises of these destinies and what are the conditions for achieving an alternate destination?

The Soul of a City: The Crystal Cathedral as Organizing Metaphor for (post)Modern Architecture at the Bauhaus
The Bauhaus, founded in 1919 at Weimar, Germany by Walter Gropius, was arguably the most influential school of design in modern times, set up in the form of a residential creative community of designers, craftsmen, architects and artists. As part of its central ideal, Water Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus, envisaged a world made up of creative communities united spiritually in and around a materialized soul, which he likened to "a crystal cathedral." Today, Bauhaus influenced architecture is ubiquitous as the symbol of world modernity, but Gropius' dream is far from fulfilled. This article explores the historical dimensions of this ideal, the causes for its failure and the possible conditions for its postmodern manifestation.


The History of Indian Art History: Interpretation and Interpenetration
This article fleshes out the history of the Western and Indian considerations of Indian art, from early to modern instances and tries thereby to see the shifting location of Indian art within the discipline of art history. Early western consideration of Indian art dismissed it as monstrous, indecent and uninteresting. Applying western canonical views to make its value-judgements, these considerations were superseded around the turn of the 19th/20th c. by a race oriented interest, related to the pervasive colonialism of the era. The essay tries to identify the shift from these concerns to the formation of an independent Indian art history, based in the efforts of turn of the century Indian Orientalists, who saw Indian art in terms of a critique of modernity and as having its own internal canonical values. This enterprise was co-created on the Indian side by Indian nationalists. Both these Orientalist and nationalist art histories of the early 20th c. were, however, not without their problems, and suffered from the malady of essentialism, also endemic to the post-Enlightenment colonial imagination. Modern and contemporary Indian art histories are finally addressed, with a consideration of some of the texts on art history presently available. A free download from

Authority, Authorization and Authorship in Indian Art
What has been the relationship between art and power in India? How have patrons authorized art and been authorized by it in turn? What is the status and understanding of artistic authorship and its place in the rituals of authorization? This essay takes up these questions in a consideration which spans medieval Hindu India, Moghul Imperial India and Colonial modern India and sees the shifts of power in these terms and their meanings through Indian history. It first takes up the 13th c. Hindu sun temple of Konarak and considers the ordination of King Narasimhadeva, sponsor of temple; next it considers an allegorical portrait of the Mughal emperor Jehangir painted by the artist Bichitr; and finally, it turns its attention to the colonial/national interchange implied in an early 20th c. painting by Abanindranath Tagore, meant for the Delhi Durbar organized by British Viceroy, Lord Curzon. In all these cases, it draws out the power relations between sponsor, artist, art and intended audience and demonstrates how authorization, authority and authorship works in each case. A download from

Introductory Notes on "Hinduism"
"Hinduism" can be seen as a body of Indian religious and spiritual systems which follow the primacy of the Vedas. These notes attempt a cross-cultural description of this complex field seen as an unified discourse. Aspects covered include productive dualities within Hinduism, textual history of Hinduism, major Puranic gods, Hindu practices and the Hindu temple.

The Bengal Renaissance and the Bengal School of Art: Revivalism or Modernity
This essay looks at the early nationalist movement of cultural politics in India which has been called the Bengal Renaissance and tries to contextualize the Bengal School of Art within it. It pays attention to the questions of revivalism and tradition in both these movements and tries to draw out the complex forces at work in fashioning their expressions. It conclusion, it identifies national, regional and local histories which interact with one another and with homologous and inimical trans-national forms and ideas in the construction of a new modernity and a new traditionality. A download from

The Hybridity of Colonial Indian Art and Gaganendranath Tagore's "Cubism"
This article looks at the way in which Indian painting since the 16th c. has assimilated western art in hybrid forms. In the modern period, it theorizes a vertical and horizontal dimensionality to hybridity in the colonial-national interchange. The art of Gaganendranath Tagore is finally studied in its historical development to demonstrate the operation of both horizontal and vertical forms of hybridity in his paintings. A download from

Homologies of Cultural Resistance in Turn-of-the-Centry Japan and India: A Comparative Study of Okakura Kakuzo and Abanindranath Tagore
This article makes a comparative study of the Japanese ideologue Okakura Kakuzo and the Indian artist Abanindranath Tagore with a view to developing homologous processive structures of colonial-national engagement. Issues of "hybridity" and "cultural purity" are explored along with notions of strategic essentialism and the construction of a national art history as a field of hybrid discourse. A download from

Abanindranath Tagore's Krishna Lila and the Fashioning of a Dialogic National Subjective Space in Turn-of-the-Centry Calcutta
The "Krishna Lila" series represents Abanindranath Tagore's point of departure initiating his engagement with colonialism and modernity. In this article, I locate Abanindranath Tagore within the regional cultural history of Bengal, the larger cultural context of the Bengal Renaissance and the local history of the Jorasanko Tagores of Kolkata. The trope of the Krishna Lila as a historical carrier of revolutionary ideas is traced in its semantic transformations through these situated histories leading to its artistic manifestation in the work of Abanindranath as the locus of communitarian messages resistant to modernity and constitutive of an alternate intercultural national space. A download from

Empire, Colony and Nation in the Delhi Durbar Paintings of Abanindranath Tagore
Abanindranath Tagore presented three paintings for the 1903 Delhi Durbar organized by Governor General, Lord Curzon to commemorate the coronation of British emperor Edward VII. By looking st these three paintings based on the Orientalist fantasy of the Taj Mahal and the Mughal empire, this article draws out a thinly disguised allegory on the relationship between imperialism and artistic subjectivity and points to the hybrid constitution of the nation and the work of art as a response to colonialism. A download from

Jibanananda Das, Post-Rabindrian Bengali Poet
Jibanananda Das (1899-1954) was a Bengali poet who marks the transition to Bengali Modernist poetry. Necessitated into the career most common to modern poets, he was a teacher of English in Barisal (Bangladesh) and Calcutta and was well-read in Mallarme, Rimbaud, Valery, Pound, Eliot and the like, whom he often references in his prose writings. Jibanananda relies largely on imagistic and symbolical means to express in his poems a complexity which grapples with the subjective realities of modern urban life. The range of Jibanananda's poems far exceeds the scope I have outlined in this essay, but my purpose here was only to touch on some important repeating themes and concerns in his work. I believe that in work of this kind, new directions towards the Future Poetry announced by Sri Aurobindo were taken, directions that have added to the store of approaches that might be utilized in the climb to a higher utterance, which yet recognize the range and complexity of consciousness in its engagement with modern existence.

The Incipient Tantrism of Borobudur
Ever since its discovery by Raffles in 1814, Borobudur has been an object of mystery. Its imposing size and the magnificence of its conception and carving aside, the uniqueness both of its structural design and its iconography among religious monuments, not only in its temporal and spatial proximity, but anywhere in the Indic world, has heightened its aspect of enigma, inviting conjecture on its intention. Who made Borobudur, what was it used for and why was it made the way it was made – these and similar questions arise immediately in connection with the monument. Though more than 150 years have passed since its discovery, none of these questions have been definitively answered, though some important preliminary headway has been made, in establishing the period of its construction and in conclusively identifying the textual sources of the carving. A download from

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