Art History Department

Jain, Kajri MA, PhD

Associate Professor of Indian Visual Culture and Contemporary Art, South Asian Art and Visual Culture (UT Mississauga)


My research on popular image-cultures in India focuses on the interface between religion, politics and vernacular business cultures. My first book, Gods in the Bazaar: The Economies of Indian Calendar Art(Duke University Press, 2007), examined printed religious icons; my second book project is on the emergence of monumental statues in post-liberalization India, in tandem with economic reforms and Hindu nationalist and Dalit political assertions. This project extends my interests in the efficacies of circulation, the aesthetics of modern religion, and vernacular capitalism to their interface with material infrastructures (construction in concrete, the automotive industry), domestic tourism, landscape/“nature”, governmentality, and democracy, particularly the politics of caste. It has been supported by a SSHRC Standard Research Grant.

While my teaching is often based on South Asian materialsmy courses take a postcolonial and transcultural approach to interrogating the disciplinary assumptions of art history, cinema studies, and visual studies. These critical perspectives inform my writing on contemporary art in India and elsewhere. I have also been a participant in inter-Asian workshops at the University of Toronto, the University of Heidelberg, Yale University/University of Hong Kong, and the Academia Sinica.

Areas of Academic Interest
  • Image-cultures in modern India
  • Postcolonial approaches to aesthetics and politics
  • Art historiography and temporality
  • Religion and media
  • New materialism
  • Conceptions and representations of "nature" in South Asia
  • PhD, Art History and Theory University of Sydney
  • MA, Art History and Theory University of Sydney
  • PEP, Visual Communication National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad
Selected Publications
  • 2015

    ‘Post-Reform India’s Automotive-Iconic-Cement Assemblages: Uneven Globality, Spectacle, and Iconic Exhibition Value’, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power (special issue on The Aesthetics of Arrival, ed. Ravinder Kaur and Thomas Blom Hansen), 2015, DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2015.1034132

  • 2014

    ‘The Handbag That Exploded: Mayawati’s Monuments and the Aesthetics of Democracy in Post-Reform India’, in Tapati Guha Thakurta, Partha Chatterjee and Bodhisattva Kar (eds.), New Cultural Histories of India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 139-179.

  • 2012

    ‘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.

  • 2011

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

  • 2011

    ‘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.

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