Photography's Other Histories / Edition 1

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Moving the critical debate about photography away from its current Euro-American center of gravity, Photography’s Other Histories breaks with the notion that photographic history is best seen as the explosion of a Western technology advanced by the work of singular individuals. This collection presents a radically different account, describing photography as a globally disseminated and locally appropriated medium. Essays firmly grounded in photographic practice—in the actual making of pictures—suggest the extraordinary diversity of nonwestern photography.

Richly illustrated with over 100 images, Photography’s Other Histories explores from a variety of regional, cultural, and historical perspectives the role of photography in raising historical consciousness. It includes two first-person pieces by indigenous Australians and one by a Seminole/Muskogee/Dine' artist. Some of the essays analyze representations of colonial subjects—from the limited ways Westerners have depicted Navajos to Japanese photos recording the occupation of Manchuria to the changing "contract" between Aboriginal subjects and photographers. Other essays highlight the visionary quality of much popular photography. Case studies centered in early-twentieth-century Peru and contemporary India, Kenya, and Nigeria chronicle the diverse practices that have flourished in postcolonial societies. Photography’s Other Histories recasts popular photography around the world, as not simply reproducing culture but creating it.

Michael Aird, Heike Behrend, Jo-Anne Driessens, James Faris, Morris Low, Nicolas Peterson, Christopher Pinney, Roslyn Poignant, Deborah Poole, Stephen Sprague, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, Christopher Wright

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Photography's Other Histories is an extremely interesting and important volume. It challenges both the canonical view of photographic value and importance and, in its cross-cultural concerns, the centrality of Euro-American theoretical constructs of photography. Throughout, the collection successfully argues for a reorientation in the critical debate." —Elizabeth Edwards, Curator of Photographs and Lecturer in Visual Anthropology, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

“Photography's Other Histories is a quite remarkable collection of essays on widely ranging photographic practices around the world. In its attention to local cultural inflections to a global technology, to the recuperation of colonial images by their latterday Fourth World subjects, and to the provocative antirealist aesthetics characterizing much postcolonial photography, this volume marks a watershed in both art history, anthropology, and cultural studies.“—Lucien Taylor, The Film Study Center, Harvard University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822331131
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/2003
  • Series: Objects/Histories Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 286
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Pinney is Reader in Anthropology and Visual Culture at University College London. He is author of Camera Indica: The Social Life of Indian Photographs and coeditor of Pleasure and the Nation and Beyond Aesthetics.

Nicolas Peterson is Reader in Anthropology at the Australian National University. He is coeditor of Citizenship and Indigenous Australians: Changing Conceptions and Possibilities.

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Read an Excerpt

Photography's other histories

By Christopher Pinney

Duke University Press

ISBN: 0-8223-3113-6

Chapter One

Jo-Anne Driessens

Relating to Photographs

My name is Jo-Anne Driessens, I was born in Ipswich (Brisbane) in 1970. I was adopted at two weeks from Warilda nursing home in Newmarket (Brisbane). The name Driessens comes from my adopted Dutch/Australian family, who already had three fair children (fig. 1); outsiders noticed I had a different heritage from the other Driessens when looking through our family albums (figs. 2, 3, and 4).

My relationship with photographs began as a personal journey, which I would like to share. My interest in photography began at the age of sixteen. My adoptive family always encouraged me in my search for my birth family. While working for the Department of the Environment and Heritage I met Vicky Turner, who was studying anthropology at the time. She introduced me to Michael Aird who worked as a curator of Aboriginal photographs at the Queensland Museum. I did voluntary work for Michael at the museum on the ethnohistorical photographic collection and as a result became more interested in my Aboriginal background. While working on the photographs I couldn't help wondering if any of the people in them were my ancestors.

When I started work on the Betty McKenzie Collection from Barambah settlement in the 1930s (the settlement is now called Cherbourg) it became my priority interest. I was starting to track down my bloodrelatives and I knew that there was a strong possibility that my blood family came from Cherbourg.

As I was working with the McKenzie Collection trying to document the photographs, I began to understand through the photos who were the well-known community members at the time. One photo in particular of Nancy Chambers at the soup kitchen (fig. 5) I seemed to have warmed to, and it was also quite a popular one for photographic orders by the public. I had no idea then that my relationship with this photograph would be the beginning of a turning point in my life.

It wasn't until my involvement with the preparation of the book I Know a Few Words (Aird 1996), compiled by Michael, that I came to know my family connection to the photo of Nancy Chambers in the soup kitchen. The book evolved from a conversation between Hazel Mace and her niece, Bertha Korbe, and was planned to show how Aboriginal people in the southeast region of Queensland lost their language. It was while mixing and working with the community that I discovered that Hazel was my grandmother (nana) and that Bertha was my auntie.

I began asking them about the photographs in the McKenzie Collection and listening to their memories of that time in their life. One day my grandmother told me that she, along with her mother, was in some of the photographs in the collection. When she showed me the picture of her mother it was the picture of Nancy Chambers! If only photos could talk!

So I now have this new relationship with any photos that I view of Nancy Chambers, who I can confidently say is my great-grandmother. As I continued my journey of discovery, my next milestone was taking on a photographic cadetship with the State Library of Queensland, which at the time of this writing is now in its fourth and final year. Last year, as part of my continuing photographic journey, I completed my photographic portfolio by taking photographs at Cherbourg. People there have given me excellent feedback on my pictures.

My job, along with study, is to print and copy historical photographs of Queensland, which has included printing up the Tindale Collection photographs of Aboriginal people. Among them I found a picture of my great-grandfather (fig. 6). However, because Tindale's photographs are mainly taken to show physical types, they are very controlled and impersonal. But after a visit by my nana to the state library's Indigenous Unit in the John Oxley Library where she looked through many photographs from both Cherbourg and Yarrabah, she was fortunate to find another photograph of her father, Charlie Chambers Senior (fig. 7). It turns out he appears in a few photographs because he was a keen euphonium player, which was exciting for me as I had only seen him through the eyes of Tindale, and for me the Tindale Collection photo leaves feelings of sadness. Even so, Tindale's photographs of the old people are still a fountain of valuable information for anyone who is in a similar situation as myself.

Although I have mixed feelings about the photo of my great-grandfather in the Tindale Collection, it plays a very important role in my life and in my almost-completed journey of photographic discovery. However, I still expect that I have new discoveries to make in going through the many collections of photographs I have yet to look at in my new family's shoeboxes and albums.


Excerpted from Photography's other histories by Christopher Pinney Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: "How the Other Half ..." 1
Relating to Photographs 17
Growing Up with Aborigines 23
When Is a Photograph Worth a Thousand Words? 40
The Making of Professional "Savages": From P. T. Barnum (1883) to the Sunday Times (1998) 55
Navajo and Photography 85
The Japanese Colonial Eye: Science, Exploration, and Empire 100
The Changing Photographic Contract: Aborigines and Image Ethics 119
Supple Bodies: The Papua New Guinea Photographs of Captain Francis R. Barton, 1899-1907 146
Figueroa Aznar and the Cusco Indigenistas: Photography and Modernism in Early-Twentieth-Century Peru 173
Notes from the Surface of the Image: Photography, Postcolonialism, and Vernacular Modernism 202
Imagined Journeys: The Likoni Ferry Photographers of Mombasa, Kenya 221
Yoruba Photography: How the Yoruba See Themselves 240
Works Cited 261
Contributors 277
Index 279
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