Raw Histories: Photographs, Anthropology and Museums

Overview

Photographs have had an integral and complex role in many anthropological contexts, from fieldwork to museum exhibitions. This book explores how approaching anthropological photographs as "history" can offer both theoretical and empirical insights into these roles. Photographs are thought to make problematic history because of their ambiguity and "rawness." Taking the nature of photography as her starting point, the author argues that photographs are not merely pictures of things but are part of a dynamic and ...
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Overview

Photographs have had an integral and complex role in many anthropological contexts, from fieldwork to museum exhibitions. This book explores how approaching anthropological photographs as "history" can offer both theoretical and empirical insights into these roles. Photographs are thought to make problematic history because of their ambiguity and "rawness." Taking the nature of photography as her starting point, the author argues that photographs are not merely pictures of things but are part of a dynamic and fluid historical dialogue, which is active not only in the creation of the photograph but in its subsequent social biography in archive and museum spaces, past and present. Drawing on a variety of examples, largely from the Pacific, the author demonstrates how close readings of photographs reveal not only western agendas, but also many layers of differing historical and cross-cultural experiences. That is, photographs can "spring leaks" to show an alternative viewpoint. These themes are developed further by examining the dynamics of photographs and issues around them as used by contemporary artists and curators and presented to an increasingly varied public.

Author Biography: Elizabeth Edwards is Lecturer in Anthropology and Curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I would like to recommend [the book] not only to anthropologists but to anyone with an interest in historical photographs and their representation." —Source

"A sensitive and provocative book." —Choice

"Edwards is clearly an expert in her field, with a wide theoretical and practical grasp of the role of photographic archives in museum collections. The bibliography is excellent, and the text is always well-written and closely argued ... Very useful and thought-provoking." —The Art Book

"Raw Histories deserves wide readership for many reasons. While there are parts that are challenging due to the density and complexity of the ideas, this book should become essential reading for scholars and students in a variety of visual disciplines and heritage institutions... this book is in itself 'raw history' at its best. [The book] stimulates such questions, and thus exposes not only the rawness and complexity of photography as a form, but the agency of us all in framing, containing and releasing their research potential." —History of Photography

"This is an important and comprehensive study which should be read by visual anthropologists and their students, as well as curators in museums and art galleries who both look after photographic collections and curate exhibitions involving photos." —JRAI

"Raw Histories is a work of passion, determination and knowledge... this is a rich text full of theoretical linkages, perceptive commentary, compelling research and abundant, well-captioned photographs. Edward's vision is intellectually challenging and her astuteness in managing the raw material - the photographs, the documents, the collections - is always evident. With optimism, insider knowledge and an unwavering grasp, Edwards leads you through the secret lives of photographs towards their latent possibilities." —Jourbanal of Museum Ethnography

dn0 "This is an important and comprehensive study which should be read by visual anthropologists and their students, as well as curators in museums and art galleries who both look after photographic collections and curate exhibitions involving photos." —The Royal Anthropological Institute

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859734926
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 7/1/2001
  • Series: Materializing Culture Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 284
  • Lexile: 1530L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Edwards is a Lecturer in Anthropology and Curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
List of Figures
1 Introduction: Observations from the Coal-Face 1
Pt. I Notes from the Archive
2 Exchanging Photographs, Making Archives 27
3 Photographing Objects 51
Pt. II Historical Inscriptions
4 Visualising History: Diamond Jenness's Photographs of the D'Entrecasteaux Islands, Massim, 1911-1912 83
5 Time and Space on the Quarter Deck: Two Samoan Photographs by Captain W. Acland 107
6 Professor Huxley's 'Well-considered Plan' 131
7 Re-enactment, Salvage Ethnography and Photography in the Torres Strait 157
Pt. III Reworkings
8 Rethinking Photography in the Ethnographic Museum 183
9 Jorma Puranen - Imaginary Homecoming - A Study in Re-engagement 211
10 Epilogue 235
Bibliography 239
Index 265
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