Material histories and wood-carving: fragments from modern Punjab

Zubair, Nadine (2020) Material histories and wood-carving: fragments from modern Punjab. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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In pre-colonial times, wood-carved doors, doorways, balconies and windows were essential and recognisable facets of public and domestic buildings in the Punjab. Colonial directives, however, led to significant changes both in the built landscape and in the production, consumption and meaning of wood-carving. Discerning in these changes an emphasis on fragmentation, this thesis explores the material effects of colonial-era engagements with regional arts and crafts, urban redesign, education, and public administration. It attempts to disrupt the false sense of coherence implied by the idea of a 'circuit' of culture, to grapple instead with the affordances of the fragment.

Despite their proliferation and prolonged participation within local practice, carved architectural fragments are now rarely encountered in the buildings for which they were produced. Global demand for these items has dispersed them to far-flung private collections, museums, restaurants, and houses in every occupied continent, making
them uncannily familiar visual tropes with performative significance.

This project considers archival records, architectural specimens from museums and collections, Punjabi narratives, and primary and secondary historical sources as fragments, and explores their affordances in relation to the Punjab and Britain from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. By using hitherto unpublished archival material, and drawing these fragments into 'critical constellations', this thesis aims to reframe and rebalance the historical and temporal contextualisation of their production, pedagogy and consumption. It then suggests an alternative reading of fragments: as invocations of a more dynamic, mutative and transformative cultural condition.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2020 15:51
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2020 15:51


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