Graham Shaw

University of London, UK


The iconography of the Indian freedom movement: the Japanese dimension


The iconography of the Indian Freedom Movement has been well studied in recent years in works by scholars such as Sumathi Ramaswamy, Christopher Pinney and others. These scholars have inevitably focused on the posters, almost invariably printed in black and white, produced in India itself. They present an intensely patriotic, essentially sombre tone, often calling through their printed captions and powerful images for self-sacrifice to free the nation. But a completely different approach and tone is to be found in the posters produced by the Japanese in support of the Indian National Army during the latter years of the Second World War. The vivid colours deployed in these chromolithographs and the humour of their cartoon-like images add a new dimension to the iconography of the Indian Freedom Movement. This presentation will begin to examine this little-known and neglected body of material.


Graham Shaw is a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. He retired from the British Library in 2010, having been Head of the Library’s Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections for over twenty years. For the past forty years he has researched the history of printing and publishing in South Asia from the 16th to the 20th centuries. His published works include Printing in Calcutta to 1800 (London: The Bibliographical Society, 1981) and The South Asia and Burma Retrospective Bibliography (SABREB): Stage 1 1556-1800 (London: British Library, 1987).

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