dark room with objects lying around and newspapers scattered around the table

Hamilton Studio, Bombay: the first twenty years after partition

Project team

Ben Kyneswood - Academic and PI, Coventry University

Ben will be the Principal Investigator for the project. He will visit Bombay in late 2023 to support setting the project up, deliver initial training and create digital samples. Thereafter he will manage the project from the UK using online tools.

Ajita Madhavji – Archive owner, Hamilton Studio

Ajita has managed the day-to-day use of the Hamilton Studio archive since her father’s retirement. She has strong relationships with owners of India’s other photographic collections and is keen to safeguard the archive and expand its usage. Ajita will also recruit paid interns from established media and photography courses in Bombay for this project.

Aliffya Rangwala – Metadata & Studio Manager

Aliffya will be responsible for managing the Studio, digitisation workflow and metadata development by the trained interns.

Funder

Modern Endangered Archive Programme (MEAP) – UCLA Library/ Arcadia

Total value of project

$48,000

Collaborators

Hamilton Studios, Bombay (project partner)

University of California, Los Angeles / Arcadia Fund

Duration of project

01/01/24 → 30/10/25

Project overview

This project will digitise negatives, prints and documents at Hamilton Studio from the twenty years after Partition (1947-67), a period of change and political flux in India and of mass migration to the UK.

Digitisation will be undertaken at the studio in Bombay with monthly online reviews led by the PI. The first batch (1947-51) will contain the pioneering Indians moving under the 1948 British Nationality Act, which re-defined British nationality by creating the status of "Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies", allowing Indians to move to Britain freely. The last batch (1963-67) represents a period of intensive migration: by the 1971 UK census, the British-Indian population had grown 10-fold since Partition. We remain sensitive to other narratives captured in this period too: famous people, weddings, family, street and business photography will also be included to ensure we capture a sense of the work undertaken by the Studio.

Digitization will be undertaken at the studio in Bombay with monthly online reviews led by the PI. The main workroom in Bombay was set up for a previous British Library project (EAP1117), containing desk space and shelving for the project as well as two workstations, one for negatives and one for paper.

Assets will be available via the University of California library website in 2025.

Project objectives

Ensuring the survival of an endangered archive for community use and future historical research. This will involve the digitization of 5,000 envelope contents (approx. 20,000 assets) and associated metadata in situ.

Impact statement

Our ambition is to create a Partition digital resource that complements academic archives such as Stanford’s 1947 Partition Archive and Harvard’s 1947 Partition Archive and private archives such as the Indian Memory Project and the Delhi-based Partition Archive.

The project trains interns to digitize and care for their heritage. By bringing young people, usually students in humanities or arts, into the studio to work and learn, we are changing how India has traditionally engaged in cultural care. As such we have begun to connect Coventry University’s work in India to cultural organisations such as the British Council and UKRI India.

India has begun to take its photographic heritage seriously. Digitisation has been critical because of the unforgiving conditions in India contributing to loss of valuable cultural heritage. Due to projects such as the earlier EAP1117 and this project, Hamilton Studio is working with Five Cross architects to transform into a mixed-use studio and cultural venue.

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