Illustrations by Sreyashi Ray
Sreyashi Ray is an illustrator and PhD student in South Asian Literatures at the University of Minnesota. She researchs and paints postcolonial/vernacular animals and environments. She is the author of Forced Renegades: Interspecies Relationalities, Historiographic Violence, and Zoopolitical Realism in Mahasweta Devi’s “The Death of Jagamohan” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, 2021.
Image 1: I studied public domain images of free-ranging street-dogs in India, especially those featured in Indian newspaper articles, to understand the overarching patterns of how their subjectivities were conceptualized through photography. In this illustration, I portray a predominantly canine perspective of Indian metropolitan cityscapes by juxtaposing a pack of heterogenous street-dogs against the outlines of urban infrastructures. In doing so, my purpose is to speculate on how these four-legged urban denizens negotiate and subvert anthropocentric perceptions about spatial configurations. Through aesthetic mediations of the canine viewpoint, this illustration attempts to foreground interspecies exchange of gaze and non-verbal intimacies as means of knowledge production.
Image 2: In this illustration, I wanted to juxtapose the different dimensions of affective relationality that entangle humans and free-ranging street-dogs in contemporary India. While the simultaneous presence of seemingly contradictory feelings of love, fear, aversion, and reverence complicate any homogenous understanding of human-canine companionship, it also shows how the materially grounded realities of cohabitation intersect with the anthropomorphic and allegorical perceptions about street-dogs that perpetuate in both urban and rural spaces. Through the portrayal of human-animal cohabitation as a close-knit assemblage, this illustration shows how questions of urbanization, pollution, and public health bind humans and street-dogs together.