Doctoral Students

Shadman Shahid
Started in

Research summary

Counter-archive of post-colonial Bengal: A deconstructive decolonisation

The colonial era of the British Raj in Bengal coincided with the emergence and proliferation of photography. During this time, the British used the camera as a tool for conquest and colonisation, creating biased images masquerading as factual photographs. These images were used to construct self-serving grand narratives that continue to exist within public and private archives, perpetuating post-colonial hegemony.

This research evaluates the potential of photographic fiction as a method of deconstructive decolonisation and transforms colonial archives from sites of publicly recognised authority into sites of struggle.

The artistic work defies the dichotomy between photographic fact and fiction to create a counter-archive by re-examining, re-contextualising, and re-siting the existing archival photographs and by collecting and visualising sublated perspectives.

Therefore, this research aims to expose the incompleteness and biases of colonial archives, intending to challenge their absolute claim on past realities and eradicate the colonial hegemony that persists within them.



Shadman was born in 1987 and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He obtained an MA in Fine Arts and Design from the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague (NL).

Shadman is a photographer. Through his work, he aims to make our precarious relationship with reality visible. He walks the line between documentary and fictional modes of making in the hopes of creating a more complete understanding of the real.

Shadman’s photographic works have brought him a few accolades including but not limited to the BJP Ones to Watch in 2016, Burn Emerging Photographer of the Year in 2018, and Winner of Bird in Flight Prize in 2019.

Shadman has lectured at numerous institutions such as Pathshala (BD), Willem De Kooning Academie (NL), MA Visual Culture at AKV St. Joost (NL), and the KABK.

He is currently based in the Netherlands, working on his personal projects while heading the MA Photography & Society at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.


Individual projects