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Florian Stadtler India exhibition

The exhibition features Indian soldiers and airmen from the two World Wars. Credit: British Library

New photographic exhibition celebrates impact of Indians on British life

Pictures of Queen Victoria with her favoured Munshi, Abdul Karim, and Gandhi visiting female textile workers in Lancashire are part of a new exhibition which explores the impact of Indians on British life.

Poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore, who was the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, Indian soldiers and airmen from the two World Wars, factory workers in Northern England, judges, door-to-door salesmen and corner shop owners and doctors all feature in the exhibition.

The exhibition, directed by Professor Susheila Nasta MBE, from the Open University, in collaboration with Dr Florian Stadtler from the University of Exeter and Dr Maya Parmar from the Open University, is on show in Edinburgh until October 1, and then on show in London and Leeds.

Curated to coincide with the India-UK Year of Culture for 2017, the exhibition grew out of a decade-long research project exploring South Asian and Indian-British connections. Spanning almost two centuries - from the period of the British Raj through to the better-known era of post-war migration to today - the exhibition, and an accompanying website that will launch in October, is a visual history of India’s impact on Britain’s cultural, intellectual and political life, national and global politics, human rights and equality, the arts and sport.

Famous personalities are celebrated, alongside images of the ordinary and every day.  The images also document moments of adversity and the discrimination faced by those who made their homes here in Britain.

There are many courageous campaigners portrayed including pioneering Members of Parliament, suffragettes, trade unionists and men and women who fought for social justice. Sportsmen such as Monty Panesar and octogenarian marathon runner Fauja Singh are celebrated alongside those from the creative fields.

Dr Stadtler said: “By touring this outdoor exhibition, we want to highlight India’s contribution to British cultural, economic, political and social life rather than Britain’s well documented historical presence in India. The images trace Indian-British connections across the divides of race, class, and gender, aiming to expose to the public the complex realities of both countries’ intertwined histories. The events accompanying the exhibition and forthcoming online tools are designed to reach wide public audiences. We hope this will help to further understanding of the huge impact India and South Asia have had on contemporary British life.”

The exhibition forms part of the wider programme for the 2017 India-Britain Year of Culture

to find more about the project, please visit:

Date: 22 September 2017

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