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  • Ph.D. Kajri Jain

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Kajri Jain, Ph.D.


Contact information


About Kajri Jain

Associate Professor of Indian Contemporary Art and Visual Culture, Department of Visual Studies, University of Toronto at Mississauga and Graduate Department of Art, University of Toronto, St. George; Graduate Department of Cinema Studies, University of Toronto, St. George.


Current research:

Book-length project currently entitled Highways to Heaven: Religious Spectacles and their Publics in Post-Reform India. Funded by Social Science and Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant, 2009-12.

This current research builds on my earlier work on contemporary religious imagery in India and its interface with vernacular business cultures, but this time in relation to a form emerging with India’s economic reforms in the 1990s: monumental Hindu, Buddhist and secular icons, built in concrete, fiberglass and stone. The project extends my interests in the efficacies of circulation, the aesthetics of modern religion, and vernacular capitalism to their interface with material infrastructures (highways, the automotive industry, dams), domestic tourism, landscape/“nature”, governmentality, and democracy (particularly the politics of caste).


Selected publications

Publications, 2008-2012




‘The Handbag That Exploded: Mayawati’s Monuments and the Aesthetics of Democracy in Post-Reform India’, invited contribution to Tapati Guha Thakurta, Partha Chatterjee and Bodhisattva Kar (eds.), New Cultural Histories of India (final draft sent to editors after peer-review).



Refereed journal articles and book chapters

‘Mass-Reproduction and the Art of the Bazaar’, Cambridge Companion to Modern Indian Culture, ed. Vasudha Dalmia and Rashmi Sadana, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 184-205.


‘The Showcard: Travelling Still’ for Bollywood Cinema Showcards: Indian Film Art from the 1950s to the 1980s, ed. Deepali Dewan, Institute for Contemporary Culture/Royal Ontario Museum, 2011, pp. 38-49.


‘Divine Mass-Reproduction’, Medium Religion, ed. Peter Weibel and Boris Groys, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, 2011, pp. 142-154.


‘Taking and Making Offence: Husain and the Politics of Desecration’, in Sumathi Ramaswamy (ed.), Barefoot across the Nation: Maqbool Fida Husain and the Idea of India, London: Routledge, 2011, pp.198-212.


‘Imagined and Performed Locality: the Televisual Field in a North Indian Industrial Town’, in Nandini Sundar and Satish Deshpande (eds.), Popular Culture, Gender and Sexuality: essays in honour of Patricia Uberoi, special issue of Contributions to Indian Sociology, (n.s.) 44, 1&2, 2010, pp. 33-55.


Non-refereed journals

‘Archive, repertoire or warehouse? Producers of Indian popular images as potential stakeholders in a virtual database’, online journal Savifa – Virtual Library South Asia, University of Heidelberg, 2009.



 “Monuments, Landscapes and Romance in Indian Popular Imagery”, on website of Tasveer Ghar: A Digital Network of South Asian Popular Visual Culture (www.tasveerghar.net), 2009.

Contribution to roundtable discussion on “Re-Enchantment” at Art Institute of Chicago, April 2007, published in the Art Seminar series as Re-Enchantment, edited by James Elkins and David Morgan, New York: Routledge, 2008.


Cluster related teaching

Graduate seminar, Winter 2010: The Recalcitrant Icon

The idea that modernity is of necessity secular is increasingly coming into tension with the myriad forms of contemporary religiosity that surround us today, including iconic images, both secular and sacred. This seminar attends to how this tension plays itself out in art history, with a view to revising our disciplinary presuppositions to address this important facet of contemporary image-making, both in the West and elsewhere. In order to examine the fate of religiosity and the icon in our thinking about images, we will juxtapose the sublimation of religion into the aesthetic in the powerful and far-reaching early formulations of Romanticism and Hegel with more recent reconsiderations of the modes of efficacy of images, iconoclasm/iconoclash, and the nexus between religion and media. Examples will be taken not only from Christianity and Judaism but also other religious traditions such as Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Readings, mostly from art history, philosophy and anthropology, will be chosen from GWF Hegel, Jean-Marie Schaeffer, Hans Belting, Walter Benjamin, David Freedberg, Charles Taylor, Dario Gamboni, Bruno Latour, Marie-Jose Mondzain, Barry Flood, Alfred Gell, Christopher Pinney, Boris Groys, David Morgan, Hent de Vries, Jean-Luc Nancy, James Elkins and others.


Graduate seminar, Fall 2012 (not yet taught): Automotive Affects