Images of History

19th and Early 20th Century Latin American Photographs as Documents

Images of History

Book Pages: 228 Illustrations: 225 b&w photographs Published: 0

Art and Visual Culture > Photography, History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies

In this work Robert M. Levine undertakes two separate and important tasks: to provide the first overview of the history of photography in Latin America until the advent of the cheap cameras that permitted mass photography, and to analyze the photographic record for clues to the use of the images as historical documents.
Levine has woven together an account of the development of photographic equipment and processes, with the artists and entrepreneurs who actually took the pictures, and places the emergence of photography firmly in the historical context of Latin American societies.
Treating the photographs themselves—some 225 in all—Levine develops criteria for questions we can ask of the photographs in an attempt to extract emotional, psychological, and personal information, as well as the more obvious material evidence. This is an often subjective process, one that can lead to differing results, and observers may well come to conclusions departing radically from those of the author. But this may well be one of the most important functions of an innovative work, the creation of controversy that stimulates forward motion in a discipline.


“This is a pioneering book of enormous interest. . . . Through the analysis of 225 photographs [Levine demonstrates] how historians might use them for evidence about material conditions and about the relationships, attitudes, and values of Latin American society. The result is an innovative and fascinating book.” — Rory Miller, Journal of Latin American Studies

“Who was photographed, who was the photographer, what was photographed, why was the photograph taken in the first place? These are some of the questions asked by the author of Images of History. The book proves not only to be a history of photography, but also a social history of Latin America. . . . The photographs’ reproductions are excellent. A worthy addition to your library.” — John Kerr, Camera Canada

“Photographs have proved tricky sources for historians. Even experienced investigators have had difficulty using photographic materials as a means for uncovering new aspects of past societies; therefore, those of us who train young historians have felt the need for a text that illustrated the ways photographs can yield such insights. Robert Levine’s Images of History supplies this need better than any book I know.” — William R. Taylor


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Price: $44.95

Open Access