‘Imagery as Discourse: Locating Developmentalism in Indian Currency and Coinage and its Contestations’ by Amit Prakash

Amit Prakash (Professor, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi) will present his research entitled ‘Imagery as Discourse: Locating Developmentalism in Indian Currency and Coinage and its Contestations’ at the Sociological Research Colloquium.

When: Friday, 05th April 2019 at 3:00 p.m.

Where: Seminar Room (First Floor), Department of Sociology, University of Delhi 

Convenor: Shashi Bhushan Singh


Legitimation of the state is based on its ability to communicate its self-proclaimed ideas of social change (‘development’ or ‘justice’) and resultant policy categories to the population to secure their support and compliance. In pursuit of this objective, the state deploys a variety of communicative techniques, including the use of symbols and narratives. Chief amongst the various tools so deployed are images in various public pronouncements and locations, most important of which are those on the currency notes and coinage, given their ubiquitousness across social and geographical locations. The state makes serious claims about its role in development, social change, etc. in the selection of imagery that is deployed on currency notes and coinage.

However, state’s claims embedded in such imagery has also secured a rather sharp critical commentary in the public realm, particularly through the craft of cartoons. Deploying another version of imagery, the cartoonists hold up a mirror to the state’s claims about similar issues.

The paper therefore examines the interplay between the imagery on Indian currency notes and coinage; and, select cartoon commentaries on the claims embedded therein with the aim of examining the ways in which the developmenalist narratives are constructed by imagery on currency notes and coinage and simultaneously contested through the medium of cartoons. In both cases, the role of imagery is of profound significance to the making and unmaking of the discourse on developmentalism.

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