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The Image After Strathern: Art and Persuasive Relationality in India's Sanguinary Politics

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    Rights statement: The final version is © SAGE, Copeman, J., & Street, A. (2014). Sanguinary Politics and the Strathernian Image. Theory, Culture & Society

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-220
Number of pages36
JournalTheory, Culture & Society
Issue number2-3
Early online date21 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2014


Publicly-enacted blood extractions (principally blood donation events and petitions or paintings in blood) in mass Indian political contexts (for instance, protest or political memorial events and election rallies) are a noteworthy present-day form of political enunciation in India, for such extractions – made to speak as and on behalf of political subject positions – are intensely communicative. Somewhat akin to the transformative fasts undertaken by Gandhi, such blood extractions seek to persuade from the moral high ground of political asceticism. This essay seeks to shed light on how and why these extractions have become such a means, with a particular focus on blood-based portraiture. What makes such portraits – chiefly of politicians and ‘freedom fighter’ martyrs – interesting from a Strathernian point of view is their immanent persuasive relationality. The insights of Strathern can help us to explicate these objects’ dynamic relational features, while reciprocally, the portraits may help us to illuminate and clarify the very particular and interesting nature of the way Strathern treats (and creates) images.

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