“Centralia” Uncovers the Survival of Indigenous People in Central India

Centralia is a docu-fiction photography project that sheds light on the little known conflict between the indigenous peoples of central India and the Indian state.

Whether you’re looking for a new photo book to add to your collection or simply want to support an impressive photography project, today’s featured body of work is worth checking out. Titled Centralia, this long-term, ongoing series chronicles Poulomi Basu‘s journeys deep into the forests of central India to reveal the little known conflict that has indigenous people fighting for their survival.

According to the Indian transmedia artist, photographer, and activist, she has been working on Centralia for the past nine years. The setting of this project is home to both vast mineral deposits and India’s indigenous tribes, thus making it the center of what she described as a “labyrinthine conflict over land, resources, and identity.”

Centralia has garnered several awards and was also shortlisted in last year’s International Photography Award by the British Journal of Photography.

Now, she’s seeking to fund the publication of a photo book of the project through Kickstarter, as “a new way to communicate the reality of modern warfare where the frontline is blurred and the conflict’s many actors all occupy opaque roles.”

“Through this work, I am looking to expose the violence that accompanies the bipolar development narratives present within contemporary India: between those who endorse the project of corporate industrialization and those who oppose it.”

However, instead of making it a straightforward documentary photo book, Basu opted for a “docu-fiction” approach that pushes the boundaries of her own documentary practice. To achieve this, she gives Centralia a “narrative that borrows from the tropes of science fiction to create a hallucinatory reflection that ponders the process of corporate mining and the violence that accompanies such extraction.”

Centralia is also the result of Basu’s collaboration with award-winning designer Teun van der Heijden and will be published by esteemed photo book publisher Dewi Lewis. Their goal was to assemble a book with many layers that can be viewed differently with each reading.

If you’re interested in bringing this project to life, head to the Kickstarter page to find out more and make a pledge of £30 and above (about $38) to grab a signed copy of Centralia.


Images from the Kickstarter campaign by Poulomi Basu