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Abstract

Steve McCurry has worked as a National Geographic photographer for over thirty years and has captured some of his most important images in India. These two photographic narratives—National Geographic, often criticized for its exotic portrayals of other countries, and India, long subject to Eurocentric perspectives and historicizing—frame McCurry’s effort to present the human condition in the far corners of the world. McCurry exploits these tensions as he seeks a more truthful, accurate, and ultimately complex representation of India and its people. This paper analyzes two of McCurry’s most well-known photographs—Dust Storm (1983) and Holi Man (1996)—arguing that his aesthetic purpose and technical skill enable him to engage Western viewers in an “empathetic probing of different lifeways, experiences and interests” that resists exploiting India as an exotic other.

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