Venice to India and Back: Masked Foundations of Adrian Stokes’s Aesthetics of Whiteness

“Venice,” writes Adrian Durham Stokes at the opening of his 1945 study of the city, “excels in blackness and whiteness; water brings commerce between them.”[1] This is a confident blasé opening gambit characteristic of the period and of this Faber and Faber contracted writer earlier heralded by Ezra Pound as one of the “only important writers” living.[2] Venice bothered Stokes throughout his writing and viewing life, yet Venice’s, and other, problematic whitenesses disappe

Finding Africa in Benaras: Postcolonial Citation in Jai Baba Felunath (1979)

This summer, as I was wrapping up my dissertation and packing my boxes in upstate New York, I started watching Satyajit Ray’s Jai Baba Felunath (The Elephant God, 1979) after what felt like a lifetime. The film is based on a novel from Ray’s own children’s detective series featuring the celebrated Bengali private investigator Prodosh C. Mitter, aka Felu-da (“da” being an affectionate honorific for elder brother).