Introduction: Perspectives

Introduction: Perspectives
Confronting a Colonial Archive
New Perspectives
New Images
About the Gwillim Archives

What value do the Gwillim Archives hold for South Asian scholars today? How do young people in India today view images made over 200 years ago?

Confronting Colonialism in the Archives

Until recently, at least in the Western world, documents have been considered as passive containers for information that was preserved and passed on by archivists. Archivists were also perceived as neutral - they simply made documents available to people who wanted to look at them.

Now many archivists see the biases and gaps in the records they preserve. Find out how they confront colonialism in archives created by colonizers like the British in India.

Finding New Perspectives

South Asian scholars read the records of the British in India from a new perspective. Find out what they learn from looking at the paintings and letters created by Elizabeth Gwillim and Mary Symonds.

Seeing New Images

The DakshinaChitra Museum in Chennai created a project to explore the Gwillim Archives. Explore how young women today relate to the people and landscapes the sisters described.

A row of women, men, and children, some carrying pots and bundles, precede a white ox with a green blanket pulling a pointed white cart with red detail at the top driven by a man in a white head-covering; a man sits at the back with his legs hanging over the wheel.
Street scene painted by Mary Symonds in Madras. | Scène de rue peinte par Mary Symonds à Madras.