At the threshold of life and death: Fazal Sheikh's Moksha

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This essay is organised around a project on women in India that was initiated by the photographer Fazal Sheikh in 2003. The project focuses on the plight of dispossessed Indian widows who make the pilgrimage to Vrindavan, the 'city of widows', and the childhood playground of Krishna, to devote themselves to Krishna and to seek 'Moksha' or salvation. Their pilgrimage to Vrindavan is made in the context of the gendered discrimination they experience as a result of their husband's death, and which includes loss of property, rights, and financial support. The essay traces the significance of this pilgrimage in relation to questions of gender, discrimination, and resistance. The essay is also part of an ongoing engagement with Sheikh's human rights work and of the author's ongoing interest in thinking about what it means to read an image historically. The essay is therefore both a reading of Sheikh's photographs and a Benjaminian meditation on the nature of photography in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-259
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of English Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


  • 'desubjectivisation'
  • Fazal Sheikh
  • Indian widows
  • Krishna
  • human rights
  • photography
  • testimony


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