South Indian Notebook: Photographs from Kerala and Karnataka

Photographs by Stanley Brandes
Photo taken by Brandes of a man carrying a huge round mass of dirt over his head.
Thursday, Nov 1, 2001 to Saturday, Dec 1, 2001
Townsend Center, 220 Stephens Hall
United States

South Indian Notebook features a small selection of black-and-white images shot by Professor Stanley Brandes in May 1998, when he was living in Bangalore, capital of the state of Karnataka. Brandes traveled throughout Karnataka and also visited Kochi, on the coast of Kerala, where he took photos of the so-called “Chinese” fish nets and of the inland waterway. 

The Notebook contains photos of a wide range of individuals: tourists, manual laborers, religious worshipers, Muslims, Hindus, Jains, men and women, children, and the aged. A highlight of the collection, in Brandes’ view, is a series of images taken during a Hindu festival, which he encountered accidentally while meandering through the Karnataka countryside. For an anthropologist with a special interest in popular ritual and religion, this was a particularly engrossing and evocative “accident.” And yet, without speaking Kannada, the local language, he says, he was unable to probe into its meaning. “Were I to return to this village, I would use the photographs as a lens through which to explore further the site and the ceremony. They would prompt me to ask questions that would penetrate to the heart of the culture, society, economy, and polity of the place.”